Palliative Care Basics
Life from cancer – and cancer treatment – means learning to manage symptoms and side effects. This is where palliative care comes in. Its goal is to relieve you of pain and discomfort when you have a serious illness. You can also listen to it as comfort care, supportive care or symptom management.
It focuses on relieving symptoms such as pain, nausea, shortness of breath, and fatigue. This helps you manage the stress of cancer by helping you handle the emotional side of the disease.
What kind of treatment can you expect?
Treatment may include relaxation techniques such as medication, nutrition therapy, physical therapy, and deep breathing. You may be offered emotional and spiritual counseling as well as practical help to handle insurance, legal or employment issues.
Therapeutic care can help guide you when it comes time to make a decision about treatment. It can also help family and friends who support you during this time.
Who provides palliative care?
Your medical team can provide you with all the supportive care. But often with cancer treatment, you will be referred to others as well. These may include:
- Physical therapists
- Registered dietitian
- Mental health professionals
When and where can you obtain palliative care?
It is best if the diagnosis is made and care can be started immediately. You can get through all stages of the disease and healing.
Depending on what kind of support it is, you can get it from your doctor’s office, hospital, cancer center, other healthcare facility or your home.
How does it help?
People who receive palliative care experience less depression, nausea, pain, and shortness of breath. These people usually spend less time in intensive care and are less likely to return to the hospital.
People who associate this with their cancer treatment have a better quality of life and mood compared to people who don’t get it.