Article Text

Role of Acute Oncology in the Transition to Palliative Care
  1. Claire S Nunn, Acute Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist
  1. East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, Conquest Hospital, St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex. Email: claire.nunn{at}


Patients with cancer may attend hospital emergency departments as a result of complications of their disease process and treatment, e.g. sepsis, hypercalcaemia or nausea and vomiting. In addition, patients with undiagnosed cancer can also present at emergency departments when they become symptomatic. The acute care culture within hospitals means that patients with cancer who are approaching the end of life are sometimes subjected to futile interventions and treatment. Acute oncology is a relatively new hospital service that aims to enhance the experience and outcomes of patients who present as emergency admissions as a result of complications of cancer and its treatment or for whom a cancer diagnosis is suspected but has not been confirmed. It brings together the expertise of clinicians working in emergency care, acute medicine and oncology. This article provides an overview of the acute oncology service within the author’s hospital and highlights how it can help facilitate the transition from active treatment to palliative and end-of-life care for patients with cancer admitted to an acute care environment. Conflicts of interest: none

  • Acute oncology
  • Communication
  • Hospital care
  • Palliative and end-of-life care

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