According to the Massachusetts Expert Panel on End-of-Life Care, “palliative care refers to medical and other efforts to relieve suffering and improve quality of life for patients with serious advancing illness, including efforts that are provided at the same time as curative or life-prolonging treatments….studies have…demonstrated multiple benefits of palliative care services for patients with serious advancing illness and their families, including reduction in pain and other symptoms, improvements in communication, better emotional and spiritual support, and receipt of care in a setting preferred by the patient.”
Although palliative care is often equated with the end of life, its goal is, rather, to help people live comfortably with cancer, tolerate treatment better, and improve their quality of life. Palliative care can be offered outside of the hospice setting, in conjunction with life-prolonging and curative treatments. It encompasses a variety of both conventional and complementary techniques and modalities such as exercise, nutrition, meditation, and acupuncture. Unfortunately, palliative care use remains low, and it is frequently not offered until after curative treatment has ceased. Research has shown its efficacy can be improved by its use earlier in the cancer continuum: a study recently conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital found that patients with advanced lung cancer who were offered palliative care services at the time of diagnosis experienced improved quality of life and lived almost three months longer.
For the Goals, Objectives and Strategies of the Palliative Care section please see pages 57-58 of the 2012 – 2016 Comprehensive Cancer Prevention and Control Plan for Massachusetts file size 6MB file size 1MB .
This information is provided by the Comprehensive Cancer Prevention and Control Network.