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Hospice and Palliative Care for the Cancer Patient
Medically reviewed by Dr. Mark Fox
Now – more than ever before – survival is a realistic possibility for cancer patients, thanks to new technology, drugs and therapies. PALLIATIVE CARE. While cancer specialists treat the disease (with survival as the goal), palliative care specialists can treat the patient’s pain, nausea, fatigue, anxiety and depression associated with cancer. A study has shown that use of palliative care may even improve a cancer patient’s survival. Unfortunately, not all cancers can be cured. And there may come a point -- no matter how good your cancer doctors, available treatments or even clinical trials – where therapies are no longer controlling the disease.
“There comes a time when further testing is unnecessary,” says Dr. Mark Fox, Medical Director of McLeod Palliative Care and McLeod Hospice. “They just need the proper medications that will allow them to maintain comfort and enjoy time with their family.”
Any patient who is no longer receiving aggressive treatment can request a Hospice and hospice services. A patient’s physician or a hospital discharge planner can help make hospice arrangements.
Most times a person receives hospice care at home. Occasionally, a person may need an inpatient setting. Or the hospice patient may need to be admitted to a hospital. All of these are coordinated by the patient’s Hospice caregivers.
“We can’t fix the disease, so we fix the burden of their symptoms, allowing them to enjoy life as much as possible,” says Dr. Fox. “A cancer patient may have too much pain or weight loss. We support them with medications to help improve their appetite, get stronger and maintain a quality of life as long as possible.”
Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance plans cover hospice care.
A hospice patient will still have access to their primary care and cancer physicians as well as:
- Availability of Hospice personnel 24/7, if needed.
- Treatment for conditions not related to their cancer
- Pain medications
- Medical supplies and equipment
- Emotional Support
- Physical Therapy
- Psychological and Spiritual support
Look for a Hospice that is:
- Connected with your local hospital.
- Accredited by the Joint Commission, a not-for-profit, independent organization that evaluated health care facilities and programs.
- Medicare-certified to meet minimum requirements for patient care and management.
- Willing to spell out specifically what services it offers.
Survival is the new reality when cancer is the diagnosis. Yet, sometimes the cancer cannot be cured. To bring comfort to the patient and the family, turn to hospice when treatments are no longer controlling the cancer.
Sources include: McLeod Health, American Cancer Society, National Institutes of Health, Breast Cancer Foundation