Health Female Adda
11 months ago
Palliative care for patients with cancer and other diseases: what you must know

When the root cause or underlying main disease cannot be cured by any means, the treatment of the symptoms of the main disease is called palliative care. Dr G N Goyal, Spine & Pain Specialist and Palliative care at Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute, helps us in understanding the important aspects of palliative care.

The aim of palliative care:
- Making the life comfortable as much as we can
- Improvement in the quality of life
- Teaching the patient and family, how to live with the disease (i.e. underlying main disease)
This concept is valid not only for cancer but also for heart failure patients, liver failure patients and kidney failure patients. (when heart, liver or kidney transplant is not possible due to any reason).

For cancer patients:
This concept is most useful in cancer patients when cancer becomes advanced ie. cancer stage 3 or stage 4 patients or terminal cancer patients. The most important aspect of palliative care is pain management or pain relief. Any cancer has only 4 treatments. Surgery, chemo, radiation and pain treatment (with palliative care).

What is the stage of cancer? Stage decides the treatment. All cancers cannot be treated by chemoradiation. Chemo/radiation may not benefit in stage 4 cancer. Recent research tells that unnecessary chemo may reduce quality & lifespan too. Pain is the most common problem in stage 3 or 4. Pain can be controlled/treated at any stage of cancer. Pain relief needs dedicated pain management treatment usually offered by Pain specialist doctors. Pain management and cancer treatment go side by side. Demand a pain-free cancer treatment. The safest treatment for advanced cancers is pain relief treatment with MIPI (minimally-invasive pain relief interventions) along with some special medicines.

Psychological counselling of the patient and the family, symptoms (other than pain) relief, taking care of spiritual and social needs of the patient are important.
For example, treatment of fever, vomiting, constipation, bleeding, loss of appetite, difficulty in breathing, weakness, and colostomy care etc., treatment of depression, agitation, confusion, loss of hope, social stigma, anxiety, aggression, anger, and frustration is a part of palliative care.
Basically, it is teamwork. The team leader is pain & palliative care specialist. The other members are oncologists, nurses, counsellors, psychologists, physiotherapists, occupational therapist and sometimes religious gurus.

Image source: Shutterstock

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