What is Palliative Care?
Palliative care is meant to optimize quality of life and mitigating of suffering among people with serious, complex illnesses such as cancer. For many patients at Cancer Care Centers of Brevard, palliative care is a part of their treatment, introduced early in the process and used to help manage side effects – physical and mental. By starting palliative care right away, patients are able to better manage their mental health and how they feel physically throughout cancer treatment.
Managing Physical Side Effects
Common physical symptoms that can be addressed with palliative care include pain, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, dehydration, and insomnia. These symptoms may be relieved with medications, physical therapy, deep breathing techniques, and nutrition therapy.
Coping with Cancer-Related Emotions
Palliative care specialists can provide resources to help patients and families deal with the emotions that come with a cancer diagnosis and cancer treatment. Depression, anxiety, and fear are only a few of the concerns that can be addressed through palliative care.
Who Receives Palliative Care?
Any of our cancer patients are able to receive palliative care regardless of their age or stage of cancer. The oncologists, along with palliative care specialists in the community, are likely to start the conversation about palliative care and advanced health care directives. If you’re experiencing side effects that aren’t easy to manage, you should bring it up to your oncologist.
Does Palliative Care Replace Cancer Treatment?
No, palliative care compliments the therapies being given. When you receive palliative care, it’s at the same time that you’re receiving treatments for your illness. Palliative care should begin at diagnosis and continue through treatment and, in some cases, after treatment. Hospice care is recommended for the last six months of life.
How Palliative Care Helps Cancer Patients
Our team works with palliative care professionals to help you and your family with concerns such as:
Managing symptoms caused by cancer or its treatment.
Providing emotional support, including treatments for depression and anxiety related to cancer.
Enhancing communication with doctors and family members about your care and issues you’re facing.
Supporting you and helping you become clear on your goals for cancer treatment.
For patients who choose to no longer seek treatment to cure cancer, the palliative care team will help the patient manage the pain and side effects that may arise.
Benefits of Palliative Care
Research shows that palliative care and its many components are beneficial to overall patient and family health and well-being. In recent years, some studies have shown that integrating palliative care into a cancer patient’s usual care soon after a diagnosis of advanced cancer can improve quality of life and mood and may even prolong survival.
Will Insurance Cover This?
Private health insurance usually covers palliative care services. Medicare and Medicaid also pay for some kinds of palliative care. If patients do not have health insurance or are unsure about their coverage, they should check with a social worker or their hospital’s financial counselor.
How to Receive Palliative Care at Cancer Care Centers of Brevard
Your oncologist may recommend talking with a team partner who will assist with palliative care. Your family members, caregivers, and friends are an important part of your care. We encourage you to bring someone with you to your appointment for palliative care so they can also understand your goals for care and treatment plan. A support system is crucial in your treatment decisions. After your initial appointment, follow-up will take place on a regular basis to address concerns and provide ongoing support.