Palliative care (pronounced pal-lee-uh-tiv) is a form of medical treatment focused on the reduction of pain, and other symptoms, to improve quality of life in patients with serious illnesses. More than 80% of hospitals with more than 300 beds offer palliative care programs.
Palliative care is an important part of many cancer treatment programs and patients should inquire about. More over, as you’re choosing a doctor and/or hospital, make sure they offer this service. Once there, make sure your doctor knows you’re interested and would like to integrate Palliative Care early in the treatment process.
The Palliative Care Team, focused on symptom management and quality of life, typically includes the services of a doctor, nurse, social worker, counselor and spiritual adviser. Under this department’s care, you can expect to receive treatment for:
- Symptoms Management: Provides relief from pain, breathlessness, fatigue, nausea, constipation, insomnia, loss of appetite, and weight loss
- Emotional Support: Focuses on emotional health and treatment of symptoms such as anxiety and depression
- Family Care: Offers support and guidance to help the patient’s family cope
- Spiritual Comfort: Extends comfort while addressing the transcendent meaning of life; as defined by the patient.
Palliative care is a complimentary service to the standard of care for cancer treatment; it is not prognosis dependent. There are two forms of palliative care practiced in the United States:
- General Palliative Care: Provides anyone with a serious, complex illness relief from symptoms and less suffering to increase the quality of life for the patient and their family.
- Hospice Palliative Care: Focuses on patients with terminal cancer whose life expectancy is less than six months. It is usually provided in patient’s home, but may also be provided in a hospital or nursing home.