Palliative cancer care can be effective

Palliative cancer care can be effective

Palliative cancer care can be effective

Cancer is a chronic condition and can be emotionally and mentally overwhelming for those diagnosed with it. While timely detection and treatment are critical to combat this disease, there is another aspect of managing cancer - palliative care. Medication, radiation therapy and surgery focus on the curative part of a disease. However, palliative care is given to improve the quality of life by addressing the symptoms in a cancer patient.

Palliative care starts at the time of diagnosis and continues till the end stages of cancer. It is built around identifying, assessing and treating pain, and the patient's physical, psycho-social, and spiritual problems.

Palliative care entails therapies to alleviate cancer-related symptoms, addressing emotional concerns such as depression and fear; helping the patients and families understand the course of treatment and terminologies; and come to terms with what is ailing them. When integrated with other treatment options, this approach can help cancer patients live longer with acceptance and respond better.

The aim of this kind of care is to support the patients and their the families when diseases such as cancer do not respond anymore to curative treatment. Not only does it alleviate pain and other symptoms, but also relieves the patient of mental distress.

There are about 0.3 million cancer deaths in India per year and about 80% of those with this condition get diagnosed only in the last stages. What exacerbates this condition is that most patients may not be able to afford standard and institutionalised treatment.

This and the fact that many people would be happy to spend the remainder of their lives surrounded by their family indicates that a home-based palliative care is effective for cancer patients.

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