NCPD Article

Palliative Radiation Therapy: The Role of Radiation Therapy in Palliative and End-of-Life Care

Reanne Booker

palliative care, radiation therapy, quality of life, symptom management
CJON 2022, 26(6), 628-635. DOI: 10.1188/22.CJON.628-635

Background: Radiation therapy (RT) remains one of the main pillars of cancer treatment, alongside systemic therapy and surgery. More than half of people with cancer will receive RT at some point during their treatment trajectory. Although RT contributes to cure in a substantial number of patients, more than half of patients treated with RT are treated with palliative intent. RT plays an integral role in alleviating symptoms, preserving function, and improving quality of life for patients with cancer.

Objectives: The aim of this article is to provide information on the role of RT in palliative and end-of-life care.

Methods: A review of the literature and professional guidelines on palliative RT was performed.

Findings: This article provides foundational information for nurses on indications for palliative RT, possible side effects and toxicities associated with palliative RT, and challenges and barriers that may be encountered when considering palliative RT. Nursing implications, including the importance of a palliative approach to care, are discussed.

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