Managing Side Effects (Palliative Care)
What is palliative care?
Life during and after cancer-fighting treatment may require ongoing care and attention to help a cancer survivor feel as healthy as possible. In the healthcare community, care focused on comfort and quality of life is known as palliative care and concentrates on total well-being.
The word palliative is used to describe care that is meant to relieve the symptoms of a disease rather than to cure it. Palliative care can be provided at any time after a cancer diagnosis. It can be provided along with cancer-fighting treatments or as the main focus of care.
Palliative care is a philosophy of care and a system for delivering care. It focuses on preventing, treating, reducing or removing discomfort whenever and however it appears. It addresses, respects and treats all physical, emotional, social, spiritual and financial needs from the time of diagnosis throughout the end of life.
Personal satisfaction, caring for oneself and getting help to deal with any concerns define quality of life. With palliative care, quality of life is given equal or more importance than length of life. Improving quality of life helps both pancreatic cancer survivors and their loved ones and improves decision-making and personal growth.
The National Consensus Project for Quality Palliative Care has created a set of accepted professional guidelines that define palliative care and provide guidance to healthcare professionals on providing quality palliative care services to cancer survivors. The guidelines describe palliative care in cancer in the following ways.
The purpose of palliative care in cancer is to:
- Relieve suffering and provide support for survivors to enjoy the best possible quality of life at all stages of living with cancer.
- Prevent, evaluate, and treat pain and other physical, emotional and spiritual concerns.
- Focus on comfort and the quality of life rather than cure.
- Respect the wishes and needs of survivors and their families first. This is called “patient and family centered” care.
- Support the family in managing a loved one’s illness throughout its course, including providing assistance with grief and bereavement.
- Be an active partnership between survivors and their healthcare teams to deliver coordinated care that addresses a survivor’s total well-being.
- Be a method for guiding survivors and their families in making appropriate quality of life decisions.
- Be available to survivors wherever they live, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or ability to pay.
- Be compassionate to people at all stages of living with a serious illness.
- Respect the cycle of life and recognize death as the natural end of this cycle.
Who needs palliative care?
Any survivor who is facing physical, emotional, social, spiritual or practical challenges can benefit from palliative care to improve how they feel in all areas of their life.
Side effects and aftereffects of cancer-fighting treatment will vary depending on the specific type of pancreatic cancer and type of treatment. Since each pancreatic cancer survivor’s experience is unique, not all survivors experience the same symptoms.
The information and services provided by the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, Inc. are for informational purposes only. The information and services are not intended to be substitutes for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are ill, or suspect that you are ill, see a doctor immediately! The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network does not recommend nor endorse any specific physicians, products or treatments even though they may be mentioned on this site. In addition, please note that any personal information you provide to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network's associates during telephone and/or email consultations may be stored in a secure database to assist the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, Inc. in providing you with the best service possible. Portions of the constituent data stored in this database may be used to inform future programs and services of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, Inc., and may be provided in aggregate form to third parties to guide future pancreatic cancer research and treatment efforts. The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, Inc. will not provide personal identifying information (such as your name or contact information) to third parties without your advanced written consent. 080925