NCRI HOSPITAL | Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Cancer Hospital
3081, Nayabad, Kolkata-700094

Pain & Palliative care

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Palliative Care – a light in the darkest hours of life....

What is palliative care?

Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illness. This type of care is focused on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family. Palliative care is provided by a specially-trained team of doctors, nurses and other specialists who work together with a patient’s other doctors to provide an extra layer of support. Palliative care is a supportive care that every patient and family should get if they are facing a life-threatening illness.

Palliative care in cancer patient

Cancer is a life-threatening disease which is difficult to treat and cure. Patients with advanced cancers suffer a lot not just due to cancer progression but also because they may have poor health due to co-existing diseases, and side effects of cancer treatment. In India, around one million new cases of cancer occur each year, with over 80% presenting at stage III and IV. These patients usually have multi-dimensional problems. Therefore, they require not only physical treatment of the disease but, also need help to cope up with the other associated problems which are physical (like pain), psychosocial and emotional. Therefore, in order to reduce and relieve the suffering of the patients in all stages of the disease along with the life-prolonging medical treatment of the patients, palliative care management is highly essential.

According to the National Council for Hospice and Specialist Palliative Care Services, good palliative care must emphasize on good psychosocial care which involves both psychological and emotional well-being of the patient as well as their family. The most common psychological, social and emotional problems faced by the patients are like depressed mood, loneliness, anxiety, insomnia, fear of uncertainty about the future and related suffering, stigmatization in the society, not experiencing enough support from others ,difficulty in talking about the disease , low self esteem etc. However, palliative care provides advanced care planning and a support system to help these patients live a life that is as active, fulfilling, and as pain-free as possible.

Palliative care may last for weeks, months, or ,years and the relief of moderate to severe pain during that time can greatly improve quality of life. The biggest problem with palliative care is that many people are referred for care too late. However, recent researches show that for people with certain types of cancer, early use of palliative care services not only makes them feel better but also helps them live longer when compared with people who get standard treatment only. Thus, there is growing recognition of palliative care as an integral aspect of cancer treatment, with the ability to improve quality of life and prevent unnecessary hospital admissions and thus reducing the financial burden and harassment of the patient’s family.

Palliative care in cancer patients during Covid-19 pandemic

The basic objective of cancer care must continue to prioritize the relief of severe distress and the management of severe acute complications of cancer. However, as the cancer patients are highly immune compromised, they are more vulnerable in this Covid-19 pandemic situation. Therefore, to avoid unnecessary hospital admission, alternative approaches of treatment like medical consultation over telephone, email and in some urgent cases home care services should be arranged for patients with anticipated high palliative care needs.

Palliative care unit at Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Cancer Hospital, New Garia Our medical team of the Palliative Care Unit (PCU) comprises of specialized doctors, trained nurses, health care workers to provide our cancer patients and their family, the 24*7 support and assistance at an affordable cost. The motto of our PCU team is to assure the best possible quality of life of our patients and bring smile on their face.

“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”
Abraham Lincoln