To palliate means to comfort. Palliative medicine can improve the quality of life for those with any serious, life-limiting illness (such as Alzheimer’s Dementia, cancers, end-stage heart or lung disease, kidney failure, Lou Gehrig’s Disease [ALS]).
It does this by:
Helping patients and their families clarify their goals so they can make more informed decisions and avoid non-beneficial treatments (including unnecessary drugs);
Aggressively controlling symptoms, such as pain or shortness of breath; and,
Ensuring patients have the opportunity to choose a comfortable and dignified natural death.
Palliative care can be offered simultaneously with all other appropriate medical treatments and is not only for those nearing death – hospice is palliative care for the last six months of life.
Recent studies confirm that people receiving palliative care often live better and longer if we focus on their comfort and not on attempts to cure the incurable. For example, when 150 patients with stage IV lung cancer [cancer that has spread everywhere] were all treated with chemotherapy, but half of them also received palliative care, the palliative care group lived an average of three months longer (11 months vs 8 months) than the group who had chemotherapy only!
Palliative care principles can benefit any doctor and their patient.
For March 8/11