Benefits of Palliative Treatment For Cancer Patients

A new study from University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston indicates that palliative care results in lower intensive-care admissions, hospitalizations, hospital deaths and emergency room visits. Overall, palliative care increases the quality of life for those suffering from serious illnesses.

Palliative care focuses on reliving stress, pain and symptoms associated with serious illnesses. These range from Parkinson’s to kidney failure, to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and obstructive pulmonary disease, and every condition in between. Palliative care addresses all the symptoms of serious illnesses, like depression, difficulty sleeping, appetite loss, nausea, fatigue, shortness of breath and pain.

Ideal Patients
Palliative care can be beneficial to any patient with a serious illness. A doctor, nurse and specialists trained in palliative care all work together to provide the best results. Chaplains, nutritionists, pharmacists and massage therapists may also be part of the team for a particular patient. These team members don’t just work with the patient, but the family of the patient and the patient’s other doctors as well. They help the patient control symptoms and understand treatment options.

Starting Treatment
Palliative care is often delayed or neglected, when in fact this care is needed early on to best benefit the patient. The earlier all the symptoms of a condition — spiritual, emotional, physical — are addressed, the better palliative care is at treating conditions like fatigue, depression, loss of appetite, nausea and pain.

Benefits of Palliative Treatment
The biggest benefit of palliative care is a comfortable existence while suffering through a serious condition. Nausea, uncontrolled pain, shortness of breath — these symptoms and others do not need to be tolerated by a patient. The family of a patient can be consulted through bereavement and grief as well.

Palliative care can benefit a variety of patients in many ways. It makes dealing with a serious illness much easier for the patient, their friends and their family. However, it is important that treatment is started early for best results.