Pain and Palliative Care Program

Topics in This Section

Fox Chase Cancer Center Information

Nutrition Support Services

Cancer Pain Guidelines
for Patients

Provided by the NCCN, these guidelines are meant to help you when you talk with your doctor about treatment options that are best for you. These guidelines do not replace the expertise and clinical judgment of your doctor.
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Support Groups

Bereavement Support Group
Kids' Night Out
Support Groups

Additional Support Groups

Grief Net - An internet community of persons dealing with grief, death, and major loss.  Read more »

Kids2 Kids - email-based grief support for children. Read more »


A new, web-based resource (PREPARE) is available to share with patients and families during discussions about advance directives and end-of-life care.
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Alternative Medicine: 
Fict and Fiction

In addition to modern pain and nutrition management, there is interest in alternative, non-medicinal therapies that might help patients cope with symptoms and side effects.The NIH maintains the National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine, a guide to what works and what is just a good story.
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Palliative Care means making every patient comfortable —
everything from nutrition, to pain management, to peace of mind

Effective relief of cancer pain is an integral part of comprehensive cancer care.

The goal of this palliative care is to relieve suffering and ensure the best possible quality of life for people facing chronic and life-threatening illness, regardless of the stage of the disease or the need for other therapies.

No cancer patient needs to live with unrelieved pain.

Cancer pain can be relieved safely and effectively in over 95 percent of patients, using an integrated program of systemic, pharmacologic and anticancer therapy. The remaining patients can be helped by the appropriate use of invasive procedures. No cancer patient needs to live with unrelieved pain.

Cancer treatment itself can cause both acute and chronic pain that compromises patient rehabilitation and decreases quality of life.

Cancer causes pain in 30 percent of patients with early diagnosis and in 85 percent of those whose disease is advanced. The impact of cancer pain is magnified by the interaction of pain and its treatments with other common cancer symptoms, such as fatigue, weakness, nausea, constipation and shortness of breath.

Pain Management

Palliative-care consultants help identify and treat symptoms of physical and psycho-social problems, aid in communication between multiple caregivers and offer support for the patient's goals. the Pain and Palliative Care Program offers patients the following:

  • An interdisciplinary team of cancer pain specialists who collaborate to optimize each patient's comfort level and function.
  • Evaluation and management services to any patient with cancer-related pain. Those experiencing intractable pain or unmanageable toxicity from analgesic therapy are likely to benefit. Typical patients are those with opioid intolerance, opioid resistant pain and/or complex psychosocial problems that interfere with safe and effective relief of their pain.
  • A team of nurse clinicians and social workers led by a medial oncologist recognized internationally for his skill in pain and palliative medicine.
  • An individually tailored plan of diagnostic and therapeutic interventions based on pain origin and intensity, psychosocial status, cancer status and concurrent medical conditions. Pain is typically managed through systemic analgesics and coanalgesics accompanied by intensive education and support.
  • Nurses who monitor the effectiveness of each patient's care plan. Physician back-up is provided as well.
  • Full reassessment of patients is performed on a regular basis through scheduled follow-up appointments.
  • When the prescribed therapy is ineffective or causes intolerable side effects, patients will be referred to a consultant anesthesiologist to determine the potential benefit of procedural interventions, such as spinal administrations of opioids and/or local anesthetics through implantable pumps, regional nerve blocks, epidural injections of steroids and hypertonic saline, local instillation of neurolytic agents and percutaneous, radiofrequency cordotomy.

Patients may be referred by contacting the Pain and Palliative Care Program at 215-728-3544, Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Advanced Practice Clinicians

Kathleen Murphy, NP, AOCN, ACHPN

Marcin Chwistek, MD, Interim Director, Pain and Palliative Care Program, 
Attending Physician, Medical Oncology

Advice from the FDA

Drug Safety in the Home

In this Consumer Update video, FDA pharmacist Connie Jung explains how you can prevent harm by locking your medicine up.
Read more at »

How to Dispose of Unused Medicines

Most drugs can be thrown in the household trash, but consumers should take certain precautions before tossing them out, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA provides a guide to proper disposal.
Read more at »