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New study finds early palliative care referrals better for cancer patients Researchers find impact of timing and setting of palliative care referral on quality of end-of-life care in cancer patients.

A recent study out of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston indicates that the earlier involvement of palliative care teams in the outpatient setting can significantly improve end-of-life care for cancer patients.

Researchers found that outpatient referrals to palliative care 3 to 6 months before death were associated with fewer emergency room visits, hospital admissions, and hospital deaths compared with inpatient or late referrals.

"Bottom line, this study highlights that patients will benefit if referred early and often to palliative care services," said David Hui, MD, MSc, assistant professor in the department of palliative care at MD Anderson and the study's lead author, in a commentary in the July/August issue of Cancer.

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