Easing the Journey-an Updated Review of Palliative Care for the Patient with High-Grade Glioma

Curr Oncol Rep. 2022 Apr;24(4):501-515. doi: 10.1007/s11912-022-01210-6. Epub 2022 Feb 22.


Purpose of review: High-grade gliomas (HGG) are rare brain tumors that cause disproportionate suffering and mortality. Palliative care, whose aim is to relieve the symptoms and stressors of serious illness, may benefit patients with HGG and their families. In this review, we summarize the extant literature and provide recommendations for addressing the symptom management and communication needs of brain tumor patients and their caregivers at key points in the illness trajectory: initial diagnosis; during upfront treatment; disease recurrence; end-of-life period; and after death during bereavement.

Recent findings: Patients with HGG experience highly intrusive symptoms, cognitive and functional decline, and emotional and existential distress throughout the disease course. The caregiver burden is also substantial during the patient's illness and after death. There is limited evidence to guide the palliative management of these issues. Palliative care is likely to benefit patients with HGG, yet further research is needed to optimize the delivery of palliative care in neuro-oncology.

Keywords: Advance care planning; Advance directive; Brain tumor; End of life; Glioblastoma; Glioma; Goals of care; High-grade glioma; Metastatic disease; Neuro-oncology; Palliative care; Supportive care.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Neoplasms* / psychology
  • Brain Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Glioma* / pathology
  • Glioma* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Palliative Care
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Terminal Care*