Palliative care should begin on Day 1 of cancer care
February 2, 2015 | by Denise Heady
With more advanced cancer treatments and therapies saving lives every day, it's safe to say cancer is "Not beyond us," the official tagline for this year’s World Cancer Day.
This year’s World Cancer Day observance takes place on Wednesday, Feb. 4, and focuses on cancer prevention, detection and treatments. The awareness campaign highlights four key areas: healthy lifestyle, early detection, treatment for all and maximizing quality of life.
To explain the importance of quality of life, including pain management and palliative care, Betty Ferrell, Ph.D., R.N., director of the Division of Nursing Research and Education at City of Hope, answers questions about how providers, caregivers and patients can maximize the quality of life for themselves and loved ones.
Why is it important to incorporate palliative care at Day 1 of cancer treatment?
Palliative care is intended to address quality of life concerns from the time of diagnosis. There is strong recognition that attending to symptoms and psychosocial concerns and focusing on goals of care for each patient is vital throughout the course of the disease.
How does City of Hope maximize the quality of life for patients, their families and caregivers?
We begin by careful assessment so that we can understand the needs and unique concerns for each patient and family. People facing cancer are whole people with complex lives. Knowing the person with cancer and what is important to them, who cares for them, what they value and what they hope for helps us to respond to their needs and address quality-of-life concerns.
How does palliative care differ from end-of-life care?
End-of-life care has focused on the last weeks of life while palliative care is now seen as essential from the time of diagnosis. Palliative care is instituted concurrently with disease-focused care so that while patients are getting the best available treatments for their cancer, they are also getting the best attention to their quality-of-life concerns.
What current research is being studied in this field?
At City of Hope, we have recently concluded a five-year study testing a new model for integrating palliative care for all people with lung cancer from the time of diagnosis. We have recently received two additional National Institutes of Health grants. One project is now allowing us to take our tested lung cancer model of care into community settings. The second project is testing the integration of palliative care for patients on phase I clinical trials.
Each of our studies is based on the City of Hope Golter Gate motto: "There is no profit in curing the body if, in the process, we destroy the soul.” Quality cancer care depends on attention to quality of life and the full integration of palliative care.
Learn more about becoming a patient or getting a second opinion at City of Hope by visiting our website or by calling 800-826-HOPE (4673). You may also request a new patient appointment online. City of Hope staff will explain what's required for a consult at City of Hope and help you determine, before you come in, whether or not your insurance will pay for the appointment.