Patient Quality of Life Through Palliative Care
Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. It's provided by a team of doctors, nurses and other health care professionals working together with the patient, their family and caregiver. The team works with the patient to control pain and other symptoms, understand the patient's goals, and explain treatment options so the patient can choose what is best.
It is a proven approach that provides an extra layer of support for people of any age and at any stage of a serious disease such as cancer, and can be provided alongside curative treatment. Palliative care focuses on treating the disease while also ensuring the best possible quality of life for the patient.
Is palliative care right for you?
Palliative care may be right for you or a loved one if you are having symptoms or side effects that interfere with your quality of life. These might include pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, depression, loss of appetite, or nausea.
Who provides palliative care?
Your oncology doctors and nurses may provide palliative care as part of your cancer treatment to help reduce your symptoms or side effects. In addition, they may also ask for help from a palliative care health professional or team to work with them and provide expert symptom management, extra time for communication, help with advanced care planning, and help in navigating the health system. The palliative care team may include specially trained doctors, nurses, chaplains/spiritual counselors, and social workers. Pharmacists, nutritionists, massage therapists, and others might also be part of the team. Many hospitals and cancer centers have these specialized teams available for consultation as part of the comprehensive cancer care services they provide.
Where is palliative care provided?
Palliative care is provided in a variety of settings – including hospitals and community cancer centers – where patients and survivors frequently receive cancer care. Palliative care may also be available in long-term care facilities, through hospice, and even in the home.
How can you receive palliative care?
Ask for it! Tell your doctor, nurse, family, and caregivers that you are interested in having palliative care along with your cancer treatment to help address symptoms and other concerns for yourself or your loved one. Most insurance plans cover palliative care services. If costs are a concern, a social worker or other member of the palliative care team can help you.
Source: The American Cancer Society