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A recent study shows that including palliative care along with standard treatment can improve quality of life and help people with cancer live longer.
Palliative care specialists work with your doctor along with other health care team members such as nurses, nutritionists, social workers, chaplains and pharmacists and focus on creating an individual plan to address any treatment side effects, pain, emotional aspects and other concerns you may be experiencing.
The idea is to treat the whole person — including the physical, emotional, social and spiritual aspects.
Palliative care is often confused with hospice care, which is provided for people who have a terminal diagnosis. Palliative care can be provided at any time during a cancer diagnosis, not just at the end of life.
The research compared two groups — one group had standard oncology care and the second group had standard care along with the addition of palliative care — and focused on pain relief and quality of life.
Results showed that those who had added palliative care reported less depression, anxiety, pain and nausea. They also scored higher on measures of mobility and other quality of life aspects.
Also of interest, the palliative care group — despite many of the participants not opting for aggressive treatment as their cancer progressed — actually lived three months longer than the standard treatment group.
The benefits of palliative care for people with cancer include:
Write back and let others know if you have experienced palliative care. What benefits did you notice?
Follow me on Twitter at @SherylNess1. Join the discussion at #livingwithcancer.
Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.
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My husband, a cancer patient ,age 80 years, was told that he could have rehabilitation if he entered the hospital via emergency room. He had lost his ability to walk after many chemo treatments. The emergency room would not admit him to the hospital unless he chose palliative care. Opposed to this, he finally consented thinking he would be admitted to a chosen nursing care facility for rehabilitation. My husband was not in pain; he wanted to have therapy to regain his ability to walk again. The hospitalist asked my very tired husband if he wanted morphine and my husband chose this thinking he would get some needed rest. Ten mg of morphine drip was administered in one day. Hence, my husband didn't know where he was and did not care. He had never taken narcotics so the dosage was enormous for his weight and non-use. When I learned that he was given morphine, I stopped it, or so I thought, with power of attorney. He stayed two days in the hospital and was released to the nursing care facility. Then, we learned that he had to stay three days in the hospital for our insurance to take care of the rehabilitation and nursing. I am now shelling out big dollars for his board and room plus he is not considered for rehabilitation. As for palliative care, I'm sure there is a time for such but my husband certainly was not a candidate for that care when he entered the mentioned emergency room. Doctors, cancer patients and family need to be better educated about palliative care.
Karla: We have information on our site regarding your inquiry. Here is the URL to information that might be of interest to you: http://www.mayoclinic.org/palliative-care/ For appointments or more information, call the Central Appointment Office at 507-538-3270 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central time, Monday through Friday.
Karla, Please do ask your primary physician or in your case possibly your surgeon to request a Palliative Care Consultation, they can follow you while you are in the hospital and as you recover.
Holly, thanks for your comment. The study is published in the New England Journal of Medicine at this location http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1000678
I'm having my thyroid removed on Thursday at Rochester Mayo, would love to have pallitive care involved. How do I get in contact?
I would love a link to the study used here.
The "big Pall " team helped me and family tremendously. They were so intent on helping not just me as pt but concerns for family also. This have us positive feelings. Even offered help for motel for members away from home. Would check often to meet our needs or ask what they were. Such a great group. Experience was @Loma Linda Ca n UCLA Santa Monica... Family n patient
Believe it or not, even though I am a stage IV oncology patient, I am healthier now than I was before I broke my hip and had to have hip replacement therapy. The hip was the primary site of my recurrence of breast cancer. The surgery actually resulted in the removal of some of the cancer in the hip. The surgery and recovery have not been easy, especially given the fact I was on oral chemo (Xeloda) for the enter time I was in physical rehab. Nutrition was a huge factor. I received three nutritionally balanced meals a day. In addition, I had the benefits of physical therapy, occupational therapy, nursing support, and social interaction with therapy assistants and other patients. To make it even better, my oncologist actually visited me in rehab to adjust the dates of my next scan and follow-up lab and doctor visit. She was going to be leaving on vacation, and it would be at least three weeks before I would see her again. I had missed a scan date and doctor's visit due to the broken hip and inpatient physical rehabilitation. Her visit spoke volumes to me. She cared about me as a person. I believe that is what makes so called palliative care so effective. It brings physical and emotional balance and fosters respect, and genuine concern for the patient from the treatment team. Everyone benefits, for the doctor-patient relationship improves, and the focus is more on wholeness and quality of life, not disease, clinical treatment, and an uncertain future. Life gets better NOW.
How about Occupational Therapy added to the process of Palliative Care? I have seen some great results for patients and caregivers with the addition of Occupational Therapy for Energy Conservation, Caregiver Training, ADL/IADL training, Adaptive/Durable Medical Equipment implementation and even adjusting to one's new roles. Thoughts?
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