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When Should Palliative Care Be Considered In Cancer Management
When Should Palliative Care Be Considered In Cancer Management

Navigating cancer can be challenging, and ensuring the best quality of life for patients involves various aspects of care. Palliative care is one such aspect. Join us as we delve into what palliative care entails, its role in cancer management, the difference between palliative care and hospice care, and when it should be considered. Gain valuable insights and support for you or your loved one’s cancer journey by understanding the significance of palliative care.

What Is Palliative Care?

Palliative care is an all-encompassing approach that prioritises the well-being of patients facing serious illnesses, like cancer. It focuses on the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual aspects of care, aiming to improve overall quality of life. Typically, palliative care is provided by a team of specialised healthcare professionals called palliative care specialists. These experts undergo specialised training and certification to deliver comprehensive support. Working alongside doctors, nurses, therapists, and other professionals in Singapore, they ensure that every aspect of the patient’s well-being is addressed. Palliative care specialists also offer valuable assistance to caregivers, recognising the challenges they face and providing guidance, communication facilitation, and support with care goals. They play a crucial role in easing the burden on caregivers and ensuring they receive the necessary assistance.

The Role Of Palliative Care In Cancer Management

Palliative care covers a wide range of needs, ensuring holistic support for patients and their families in Singapore. Let’s explore key areas where palliative care can provide assistance:

Physical Well-being: Palliative care focuses on alleviating symptoms such as pain, fatigue, appetite loss, nausea, shortness of breath, and insomnia. By employing various strategies, specialists aim to enhance comfort and overall well-being.

Emotional Support: A cancer diagnosis brings forth emotions like anxiety, fear, and depression. Palliative care specialists provide resources and counselling to help patients and families navigate these challenges, fostering emotional well-being.

Caregiver Assistance: Caregivers play a vital role but may face overwhelming responsibilities. Palliative care specialists offer support, guidance, and resources to help caregivers manage their own well-being while providing optimal care.

Practical Aid: Palliative care professionals help navigate financial, legal, and insurance matters. They facilitate discussions on advance directives and communication among family members and the healthcare team.

The Distinction Between Palliative Care And Hospice Care

Understanding the distinction between palliative care and hospice care is essential. Palliative care is available at any stage of a serious illness, like cancer, and can be combined with curative treatments. Its aim is to improve quality of life by managing symptoms and addressing the diverse needs of patients and their families.

In contrast, hospice care concentrates on end-of-life support when curative treatments are no longer sought. It prioritises comfort and assistance during the final stages of life. Typically, hospice care is provided when a patient has an estimated life expectancy of approximately six months or less.

This supportive care can be provided throughout the entire cancer journey, from diagnosis to treatment and beyond. In Singapore, it can be given alongside curative treatments and is available in various settings, including hospitals, clinics, and even at home, under the supervision of qualified healthcare professionals such as doctors.

When Should Palliative Care Be Considered?

Considering palliative care early in the cancer management journey is crucial. Research demonstrates that integrating palliative care from the time of diagnosis can significantly enhance quality of life, mood, and even survival rates for patients with advanced cancer. 

Given the unique needs of each individual, it is important to consult with a cancer specialist in Singapore like OncoCare to determine the most appropriate timing and approach for palliative care. Our personalised guidance and support, tailored to the patient and their family, will ensure comprehensive care.

In summary, palliative care is an essential component of cancer management, addressing the holistic needs of patients and their families. By providing comprehensive support, symptom management, and improved well-being, palliative care specialists contribute to a better quality of life throughout the cancer journey. Remember, you are not alone. Seek the expertise and support of a trusted cancer specialist like OncoCare for personalised care and assistance today.

“Expert knowledge means better care for cancer”

Written by:

Dr Tan Yew Seng

MBBS (Singapore)

M.Med (Singapore)

FCFP (Singapore)

FAMS (Palliative Medicine)