Palliative Care: Putting Life Into Days

There is a common perception that palliative care is only for those who are bedridden and have no hopes of surviving. But this is not so. Palliative care, which is an integral part of cancer treatment right from the time of diagnosis, plays an important role in improving the quality of life of the patient, by providing medical, psychological, spiritual and social support.

What is palliative care?

Palliative care is a specialised treatment mode that integrates medical, psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care for providing maximum possible relief from symptoms, pain and stress in patients with life-threatening diseases like cancer. A holistic approach to treatment that addresses the person as a whole and not just his or her disease, palliative care can make a huge difference to the lives of both adults and children. Also called comfort / support care, palliative care can be provided in the hospital, outpatient clinic or at home, under the direction of a pain and palliative care physician.

World-wide researches reveal that that palliative care and its components are beneficial for the health and wellbeing of not just patients, but also families. Recent studies have also proved that integrating palliative care into a patient’s usual cancer care soon after a diagnosis of advanced cancer can improve their quality of life and mood, and may prolong survival.

Who provides palliative care?

Palliative care is usually provided by palliative care doctors who have specialised training in palliative care and pain management. Multidisciplinary in approach, they work with doctors from other specialities, nurses, psychologists and social workers to ensure the best possible outcomes.

What is the role of palliative care in cancer treatment?

A very important part of cancer treatment, palliative care is provided in conjunction with therapies that are intended to prolong life like radiation and chemotherapy, right from the time of diagnosis. This ensures that the patient gets maximum relief from the pain and discomfort caused by the illness as well as the high-intensity treatment modes.

The palliative care plan for each patient is created after a detailed assessment of his or her medical condition, symptoms, possible complications and psychosocial background, so that the patient can remain as active as possible.

The families of the patient too are provided psychological support including counselling so that they cope up with the intense stress and agony, in a much better way.

What is the difference between palliative care and hospice?

Palliative care begins at the time of diagnosis, whereas hospice care begins when curative treatment is no longer effective and the sole focus Is to improve the quality of life.

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