Palliative care during cancer treatment

Palliative care during cancer treatment

Palliative care can help improve your quality of life as you undergo cancer treatment.  

"Palliative care is the evidence-based approach to managing your symptoms and improving your quality of life," says Erin Dunbar, M.D., a neuro-oncologist at Piedmont. "Palliative care is designed to help you live as well as you can."

Palliative care 101

Here is what you need to know about palliative care.

Palliative care:

  • Can be given at any stage of cancer and/or once treatment is complete.

  • Is covered by insurance and considered a standard part of cancer care.

  • Is also called supportive care, symptom management and comfort care.

  • Is not intended to cure cancer, though it can complement curative treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery.

  • Is not the same as end-of-life, or hospice, care, although end-of-life care typically includes palliative care.

Goals of palliative care

Your palliative care physician and team focus on:

  • Helping you develop clear goals for your cancer treatment  

  • Improving your quality of life

  • Increasing your comfort

  • Managing your symptoms

  • Providing you with emotional support

  • Relieving your pain

  • Serving as your advocate, and improving communication between you and your healthcare team

What is palliative care?

Palliative care includes:

Benefits of palliative care

"There is clear evidence in the cancer community that the early adoption of palliative care translates to improved outcomes," says Dr. Dunbar.

Based on research, the benefits of palliative care include:

  • Better sleep quality

  • Better symptom control

  • Decreased anxiety and depression

  • Decreased pain

  • Fewer trips to the emergency department

  • Increased happiness

  • Increased satisfaction with treatment and care team  

  • Less air hunger

  • Less fatigue

  • Longer life

  • Lower risk of falls

  • More energy

"I had a patient who received curative chemotherapy and radiation therapy," says Dr. Dunbar. "She experienced significant dizziness and a sore throat from radiation. I referred her to a palliative care specialist to treat her symptoms. She received the same high-quality treatment to fight her cancer and we added to her care team compassionate, smart people who knew a lot about managing her specific symptoms."

If you are interested in palliative care, talk to a member of your healthcare team to learn more.


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