The first aim of cancer treatment is to acheive a cure, and when cure is not possible, a good palliation (life prolongation and relief of sufferings) is warranted. This article highlights the aim of cancer treatment and also attempts to assess the issues of quality of life experienced as a result of the disease and its treatment. Palliative therapy should be less intensive than radical treatment and should cause less morbidity than disease itself. It must be effective, completed in a short time and should be tolerable. It is also essential for a physician to give a clear explanation of illness to the patient and realistic advice regarding the likely outcome of therapy and the long and short term morbidities which may occur. The patient may opt for a palliative treatment with a reduced chance of cure but a better quality of life than accepting a radical treatment with a potentially higher degree of morbidity. Quality of life in oncology practice should be seen as a process and as a part of this process it seems sensible to pursue several different lines of questionnaire development rather than constructing one 'perfect" quality of life instrument.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.