Cancer is a leading cause of death in the United States. Aggressiveness of cancer care continues to rise in parallel with scientific discoveries in the treatment of a variety of malignancies. As a result, patients with cancer often require care in intensive care units (ICUs). Although growth in hospice and palliative care programs has occurred nationwide, access to these programs varies by geographic region and hospital type. Thus, critical care nurses may be caring for patients with cancer during the final hours of life in the ICU without the support of palliative care experts. This article provides an overview of the meaning of the final hours of life for cancer patients and uses principles of a “good death” and the tenets of hospice care to organize recommendations for critical care nurses for providing high quality end-of-life care to patients with cancer in the ICU.

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