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Janet L. Abrahm, MD

Palliative Medicine

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Janet L. Abrahm, MD americas top doctors


  • Institute Physician
  • Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School


Clinical Interests

  • Community clergy as collaborators in palliative care
  • Interpreters as collaborators in palliative care
  • Metastatic spinal cord compression
  • Symptom management for cancer patients

Contact Information

  • Appointments617-632-6464
  • Office Phone Number617-632-6464
  • Fax617-632-6180


Dr. Abrahm is a national leader in the field of palliative care and a professor at Harvard Medical School. She received her MD from the University of California at San Francisco, completed her internship and residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital, and served as a chief resident at Moffitt Hospital of UCSF. After completing her fellowship in hematology/oncology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, she stayed on to work there for twenty years. In 2001, Dr. Abrahm joined Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, as a fulltime palliative care physician, founding the Adult Palliative Care service there and at Brigham and Women's Hospital. Since 2008, she has been part of a research team now focused on developing an electronic, rule-based clinical decision support system (CDS) for EHRs that leverages national clinical practice guidelines to improve the evaluation and management of symptoms during and following cancer treatment. The 4th edition of her book, "Comprehensive guide to Supportive and Palliative Care in Cancer Patients" will be published in 2022.

Board Certification:

  • Hematology
  • Hospice and Palliative Medicine
  • Internal Medicine
  • Oncology


  • Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Hematology/Oncology
  • Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Quality Management
  • Massachusetts General Hospital, Hematology


  • Massachusetts General Hospital, Medicine
  • Moffitt Hospital of the University of California, San Francisco, Medicine, Chief Resident

Medical School:

  • University of California, San Francisco


Dr. Janet Abrahm is a nationally recognized expert in Palliative Medicine (Abrahm 2014), and was instrumental in creating the clinical algorithms for symptom management for the research studies referred to below (Cooley et al 2013, 2014). She was a team member for both these unique decision-aid studies and a PCORI study that enable oncologists to relieve the most common sources of distress in lung cancer patients. She led effort that developed the clinical algorithms for management of pain, dyspnea, anxiety, depression, and fatigue that were then programmed, and the algorithms for patients with similar problems that are now undergoing review by patients and clinicians prior to programming. I continue to be the clinical collaboration and algorithm writer for our research team (funded in 2018-19 by an SBIR grant) that seeks to integrate primary symptom management aspects of palliative care into the EHR.  Our team is also working with the VNS of NYC that serves all five boroughs, to standardize the symptom management offered by their organization using algorithms such as the ones we developed for the outpatient oncology group. The organization has nurse researchers and a large IT infrastructure into which we can insert the algorithms to test, once they are clinically vetted by the hospice staff.

Abrahm JL, Dias L, Fowler B. Pain management and antiemetic therapy in hematologic disorders. In: Hoffman R, Benz EJ Jr, Shattil SJ, Furie B, Cohen HJ, Silberstein LE, McGlave P, editors. Hematology: basic principles and practice. 4th ed. Philadelphia: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2005. p. 1623-37.

Abrahm JL. Caring for patients at the end of life. In: Abeloff MD, Armitage JO, Niederhuber JE, Kastan MB, McKenna WG, editors. Clinical oncology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2004. p. 847-59.

Abrahm JL. Symptom management. In: Furie B, Cassileth PA, Atkins MB, Mayer RJ, editors. Clinical hematology and oncology: presentation, diagnosis, and treatment. Philadelphia: Churchill-Livingstone 2003; p. 1240-60.

Ross EL, Abrahm J. Preparation of the patient for palliative procedures. Surg Clin North Am 2005;85:191-207.

Abrahm JL. Waiting for the platelet count to rise: negotiating care at the end of life. Cancer Invest 2003;21:772-81.

Abrahm JL. Assessment and treatment of patients with malignant spinal cord compression. J Support Oncol 2004;2:377-91.

Schuman ZD, Lynch M, Abrahm JL. Implementing institutional change: an institutional case study of palliative sedation. J Palliat Med 2005;8:666-75.

Abrahm JL. A physician's guide to pain and symptom management in cancer patients. 2nd ed. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press; 2005.

Abrahm JL. Specialized care of the terminally ill. In: DeVita VT, Hellman S, Rosenberg SA, editors. Cancer: principles and practice of oncology. 7th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins; 2005. p. 2702-18.

Abrahm JL, Sourkes B. Palliative care. In: Hoffman R, Benz EJ Jr, Shattil SJ, Furie B, Cohen HJ, Silberstein LE, McGlave P, editors. Hematology: basic principles and practice. 4th ed. Philadelphia: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2005. p. 1639-45.


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