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Supportive and Palliative Care for Adults with Cancer

The goal of palliative care is not only to prevent or treat the symptoms and side effects of the disease and its treatment, but also related psychological, social, and spiritual problems.

Palliative care is given to improve the quality of life of patients who have a serious or life-threatening disease, such as cancer. Palliative care addresses the person as an entire, not just their disease. The goal of palliative care is not only to prevent or treat the symptoms and side effects of the disease and its treatment, but also related psychological, social, and spiritual problems. Palliative care is additionally called comfort care, supportive care, and symptom management.

Palliative care is provided by palliative care specialists, health care practitioners who have received training in palliative care. They provide holistic care to the patient and family or caregiver that specialize in the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual issues cancer patients may face during the cancer experience. The physical and emotional effects of cancer and its treatment could also be very different from person to person. Palliative care can address a broad range of issues, integrating an individual’s specific needs into care. Common physical symptoms include pain, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, and insomnia.

Depression, anxiety, and fear can be addressed through palliative care. With a cancer diagnosis, patients and families often search for inner meaning in their lives. Disease brings them closer to their faith or spiritual beliefs, whereas others struggle to know why cancer happened to them. Relatives and close family members are an important part of cancer care. Like the patient, they have their needs. Many find it hard to worry for a sick relative while trying to handle other obligations, like work, household duties, and caring for other relations. Lack of clarity about how to help their loved one with medical situations, inadequate social support, and emotions such as worry, and fear can also add to caregiver stress. Palliative care specialists also can assist with financial and legal worries, insurance questions, and employment concerns. Discussing the goals of care is also an important component of palliative care.

We can improve supportive and palliative care for adults with cancer by discussion of illness limitations and prognosis which can be realized through open and honest communication with patient and family, supported their needs and preferences, and enabling shared deciding.

Patient’s goals assessments should be based on the continuous communication between the patient and the palliative care specialists to identify patient goals and there should be continuous goal adjustments. Physicians must regularly consult patients and adjust goals accordingly.

We should incorporate combined physical, psychological, social and spiritual assessment. Suffering reduction using appropriate medication and strategies aimed in reducing both physical and psychological suffering should be attempted.

Decision making should be based on patient’s wishes and preferences. It is recommended involvement or formation of a multidisciplinary team consisting of physicians, nurses and other health professionals, psychologists, mental health counselors, social workers, spiritual counselors etc.

Care during the last hours of living is equally important. The following steps are recommended: identification of the dying phase, communication, support supported patients and family’s needs and needs and symptom control. The main proposed strategy of grief and bereavement care involves the immediate and ongoing bereavement, emotional and spiritual support appropriate to the family’s needs and preferences.


Tags assigned to this article:
adult cancer care Palliative Care

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