Palliative Care in Cancer Patients: What Is It & Why We Choose It?
Aug 18,2023 | YILING
Do you know palliative care in cancer patients? It is an effective approach to reducing the pain of cancer patients.
Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. In most parts of the world, the majority of cancer patients are already in the late stages of cancer when they seek medical attention for the first time. More than 80% of patients in the terminal stage of cancer experience varying degrees of pain, gastrointestinal or respiratory discomfort, as well as psychological and social pressures. To provide the best care for terminal cancer patients, to alleviate their suffering, to help them pass away peacefully, and to assist their families in coping with grief, palliative care is an effective option.
In this blog, we will answer:
- What is palliative care in cancer patients?
- Why do cancer patients need palliative care?
- How does palliative care work?
What is palliative care?
First and foremost, we must clarify that palliative care cannot cure cancer. In fact, no treatment can claim to cure cancer. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), palliative care is defined as "an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial, and spiritual."
Some cancer patients are quite opposed to this treatment method, as they equate palliative care with euthanasia and similar practices. However, there is a clear distinction between palliative care and euthanasia. Euthanasia involves using drugs to directly cause the death of a suffering patient and involves a deliberate intervention, while palliative care allows the patient to pass away naturally without pain.
Some people also mistake palliative care for end-of-life care or simply give up on treatment. However, this is also incorrect. Palliative care is different from end-of-life care. While they share concepts of comfort and support, palliative care can be implemented from the initial diagnosis of the tumor and can continue throughout the entire treatment process.
Why do cancer patients need palliative care?
The keyword for palliative care is "dignity." We have become accustomed to leaving the final decision-making power to treatment, which results in subjecting the body to more pain in pursuit of a faint hope. As a consequence, the last moments are spent in the hospital without dignity.
Palliative care is the cessation of treatments that are considered excessive and ineffective for the patient. In palliative care, there are no dosage restrictions on painkillers, and the likelihood of addiction has been proven to be very low. Furthermore, studies suggest that patients who receive palliative care alongside conventional cancer treatments have a longer lifespan than those who receive conventional treatment alone.
Palliative care can both relieve the physical and mental pain of patients with severe illnesses and their families and improve the patients' quality of life, allowing them to pass away with dignity.
How does palliative care in cancer patients work?
Palliative care is mainly carried out through the following steps:
- Assessment: First, the palliative care team will conduct a comprehensive assessment of the patient to understand their condition, symptoms, physical health, and quality of life, in order to establish goals.
- Planning: Based on the assessment, the doctor, patient, and family will collaborate to develop a personalized treatment plan.
- Pain management: Palliative care focuses on relieving pain and other symptoms. Doctors will use medications, physical therapies, or other methods to help the patient alleviate pain.
- Psychological support: Patients may feel extremely painful mentally. Therefore, healthcare doctors will also offer psychological support and therapy to help patients, as well as their families, deal with mental problems.
- Family support: Palliative care not only considers the patient but also addresses the needs of their family. The team will provide guidance to the family, enabling them to better care for the patient.
- End-of-life care: During the final stage of a patient's life, the palliative care team will fully support the patient and their family. They will focus on the patient receiving respect, dignity, and comfort in end-of-life care.
Medication is crucial for cancer patients, especially those in advanced stages. Yangzheng Xiaoji Capsules are drugs that have been clinically proven to effectively inhibit tumor progression, and they can be used during palliative care to improve the quality of life for cancer patients.
In conclusion, when pain treatment no longer improves the condition or even reduces the quality of life, it may be worth considering palliative care as a choice. Letting go is not a sign of medical impotence, but it is respect for the life process.