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Understanding Palliative Care For Cancer Patients - CancerMitr

A cancer diagnosis has a profound impact on an individual’s life, necessitating significant adjustments in various aspects of their well-being. These adjustments encompass not only physical health but also social and economic dimensions. To enhance the comfort and quality of life for those facing cancer, it is essential to explore and implement a range of strategies and support systems. So what can be done to make their lives more comfortable, regardless of their diagnosis? Continue reading this blog to obtain a general idea.

What is palliative care for cancer patients?  

Palliative care is a specialized form of medical care provided to individuals facing severe diseases, such as cancer, by addressing physical, emotional, and psychological well-being. This approach is not limited to any specific stage of the disease and can be administered in different healthcare settings. Palliative care combines both traditional cancer treatments and supportive therapies to alleviate the diverse challenges experienced by patients. 

The primary goal of palliative care is to enhance the quality of life regardless of the diagnosis.

What does palliative care cover to ensure a cancer patient's well-being?  

Physical health: Cancer patients often grapple with a myriad of distressing physical side effects resulting from the rigorous treatments they undergo, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery. These side effects encompass pain, debilitating fatigue, loss of appetite, persistent nausea, vomiting, breathing difficulties, and insomnia, all of which can significantly impact their daily lives. Palliative care takes a comprehensive approach to mitigate these physical health challenges, utilizing a combination of medications, therapies, and interventions to alleviate discomfort and enhance the patient’s overall physical well-being. By focusing on symptom management and pain control, palliative care plays a crucial role in improving the patient’s quality of life during their cancer journey.
Also known as supportive or integrative care therapy, palliative covers; 

  • Physiotherapy: Physiotherapy is a healthcare profession that uses physical techniques, such as exercises, manual therapy, and electrotherapy, to help improve movement, reduce pain, and enhance physical function. It is often used to rehabilitate injuries, manage chronic conditions, and improve overall mobility and well-being.
  • Nutrition: Nutrition is the study of the relationship between food and health, with a focus on designing diets that promote well-being. It involves the analysis of dietary choices, nutrient intake, and the impact of food on physical and mental health.
  • Yoga and meditation: Yoga and meditation are mind-body practices that promote relaxation, stress reduction, and physical fitness. Yoga involves physical postures, while meditation is a mental practice that encourages mindfulness, self-awareness, and emotional balance.
  • Speech therapy: Speech therapy, also known as speech-language pathology, is a treatment aimed at improving communication skills. It addresses speech, language, and swallowing disorders, often involving exercises and techniques to enhance an individual’s ability to express themselves and communicate effectively.
  • Naturopathy: Naturopathy is a holistic approach to healthcare that emphasizes natural remedies and the body’s ability to heal itself. It may include dietary changes, herbal medicine, and lifestyle adjustments to promote overall health.
  • Acupressure and Acupuncture: Acupressure and acupuncture are traditional Chinese therapies. Acupressure involves applying pressure to specific points on the body to stimulate healing and alleviate pain, while acupuncture uses thin needles for the same purpose, often addressing energy flow (qi) along the body’s meridians.
  • Reflexology: Reflexology is a practice that involves applying pressure to specific points on the feet or hands. These points are believed to correspond to various organs and systems in the body. Reflexology is often used for relaxation and to address a range of health issues.
  • Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy uses essential oils extracted from plants to promote physical, emotional, and mental well-being. These oils can be inhaled or applied to the skin, and each oil may have specific therapeutic properties.
  • Massage therapy: Massage therapy involves the manipulation of muscles and soft tissues to relieve pain, reduce tension, and promote relaxation. It comes in various styles, such as Swedish, deep tissue, and sports massage, each with unique benefits.
  • Craniosacral therapy: Craniosacral therapy is a gentle, hands-on technique that aims to release tension and improve the functioning of the craniosacral system, which includes the skull, spine, and cerebrospinal fluid. It’s used for a wide range of conditions, including stress and chronic pain.
  • Sound therapy: Sound therapy uses specific sounds, music, or vibrations to promote relaxation, reduce stress, and support overall well-being. Techniques may include the use of singing bowls, tuning forks, or recorded music.
  • Sleep therapy: Sleep therapy encompasses techniques and strategies to address sleep disorders and improve sleep quality. It may involve cognitive-behavioural therapy for insomnia, sleep hygiene practices, and other interventions.
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) therapy: TENS therapy uses low-voltage electrical currents delivered through electrodes placed on the skin to relieve pain. It works by stimulating the nerves and blocking pain signals to the brain.
  • Cryotherapy: Cryotherapy involves the application of cold, often through the use of cold packs, ice baths, or specialized cryo-chambers. It is used to reduce pain and inflammation, promote muscle recovery, and improve overall well-being.
  • Ozone therapy: Ozone therapy uses ozone gas for various medical treatments. It’s believed to have potential benefits in improving oxygen delivery to tissues, boosting the immune system, and addressing specific health issues.

Emotional Health: Cancer patients and their caregivers often face intense emotional challenges as they confront the diagnosis and navigate the complex treatment process. Palliative care extends its focus beyond physical symptoms to provide crucial emotional and mental health support. This support encompasses various aspects, including addressing feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress. By offering counselling, therapy, and coping strategies, palliative care helps patients and their families better manage the emotional toll of cancer, fostering resilience and emotional well-being throughout the journey.

Caregiver Needs: A cancer diagnosis doesn’t solely affect the patient but also has a profound impact on their families and caregivers. These individuals, whether they be a spouse, parents, sibling, or child, experience their own set of challenges and emotions. Palliative care recognizes the critical role of caregivers and provides them with support, guidance, and resources. This support acknowledges the overwhelming responsibilities and stress that caregivers often bear. It may include assistance in developing coping strategies, respite care options, and addressing caregiver burnout to ensure that they, too, receive the care they require.

Other Requirements: Beyond the medical and emotional aspects, palliative care professionals also address a range of practical and logistical concerns that cancer patients and their families may encounter. These concerns may encompass financial matters, insurance claims, and other logistical issues related to the treatment process. Moreover, for those considering treatment in another country, palliative care providers can offer valuable information and assistance with visa applications, passport requirements, accommodation options, and other financial or legal matters. By offering this comprehensive support, palliative care aims to reduce the administrative burden on patients and their families, allowing them to focus on the more critical aspects of their health and well-being during this challenging time.

Is palliative care the same as hospice care?

Palliative care and hospice care are often conflated, but it’s essential to understand that these two services, while related, are not necessarily the same. Palliative care is a comprehensive approach to improving the quality of life for individuals dealing with serious illnesses, and it can be provided at any stage of a patient’s journey, whether they are receiving curative treatments or not. This means that palliative care can be integrated alongside curative treatments to address a range of physical, emotional, and psychological challenges.

In contrast, hospice care is a specific type of care that is typically offered when curative treatment is no longer the primary focus, and the patient’s main goal is to maximize the quality of life in the face of an advanced or terminal illness. Hospice care is often provided towards the end of a person’s life, with an emphasis on comfort, symptom management, and support.

It’s important to note that palliative care can encompass the provision of support to help patients and their families transition from active treatment to hospice care when the time is right. This transition may involve discussions about end-of-life preferences, addressing emotional and psychological needs, and ensuring that the patient’s and their family’s wishes are respected. In this way, palliative care acts as a bridge, ensuring a seamless shift in care as the patient’s needs and goals evolve throughout their healthcare journey.

In conclusion,

Palliative care is accessible to cancer patients right from the moment of their diagnosis and remains available throughout the entire course of their treatment. This approach takes a holistic stance, addressing not only the physical aspects of the disease but also the intricate web of emotional and mental well-being. Within a multidisciplinary team that includes doctors, nurses, social workers, and a diverse range of healthcare providers, specialists collaborate to create a comprehensive support system. The overarching goal is to facilitate a smooth and seamless journey for cancer patients, effectively managing the full spectrum of challenges they may encounter, both in their medical treatment and their overall quality of life.

How to access the best cancer palliative care in India? 

CancerMitr has a pan-India presence and has assisted hundreds of cancer patients throughout their journey. Our team works with various medical experts and healthcare service providers to assist patients from discovery to recovery. For more details about our various services, check out our website or contact our team at +91 9663071088.

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