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Palliative Care

Patient Care > Treatments > Supportive Treatment

Palliative Care

Cancer patients and survivors can benefit from palliative care, a holistic approach to easing their suffering. Contrary to popular belief, palliative care is not limited to patients with incurable or terminal diseases. The goal of treatment is to provide the highest possible quality of life at every stage, beginning with diagnosis. Supportive care or symptom control is also referred to as palliative care.

The following are examples of palliative care:

  • Treatment of pain, fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, and other symptoms associated with treatment
  • Treatment of depression and anxiety
  • End-of-life or hospice care
  • End of Life Care

If the cancer cannot be treated, the focus shifts to providing end-of-life care. Specialists in palliative medicine can assist in determining your needs and constructing a plan to meet them.

In the case of cancer patients

There are many ways in which cancer can affect patients - biologically, physically and psychologically. Patients’ (and their families’) needs are addressed during this challenging time to improve their quality of life through palliative care.

Cancer patients may experience symptoms associated with the disease or side effects related to the treatment, such as pain, breathlessness, nausea, loss of appetite, and fatigue. Palliative care professionals can manage most of these symptoms with careful assessment and an individualised plan of care that is holistic in nature.

Providing palliative care alongside curative cancer treatments is not limited to individuals at the end of their lives. Successful management of symptoms often allows the patient to continue with necessary cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy. This is to ensure that their disease is managed as efficiently as possible.

Early involvement of the palliative care team in managing patients with advanced cancer has also been shown to improve quality of life, reduce depression, enhance coping, and even improve survival rates.

The following should be included in the end-of-life planning process:

  • Provide comfort to the patient by treating symptoms such as pain, fatigue, breathing difficulties, and other concerns.
  • It is imperative to discuss advance care planning with family members before making decisions regarding wills, funeral arrangements, and other details.
  • Choosing the location and method of providing care. Your palliative care team can assist you in deciding on hospice care. Hospice care may be provided at home, in the hospital, in assisted-living communities or nursing homes. Patients suffering from uncontrolled symptoms can stay in hospice facilities for a short period of time for treatment.