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Difference between Palliative care and End-of-life care in a cancer diagnosis

Palliative care is mostly misunderstood as end-of-life care. The moment patients and their families hear of Palliative care they start presuming the worst. Many patients who have been referred for Palliative support believe they are going to die. Having palliative care doesn't necessarily mean that the patient is going to die soon; some patients have palliative care for years.

End of life and palliative care is based on what your needs are, not your diagnosis. If patient has an incurable illness that will eventually lead to the end of his life, palliative care which includes end-of-life care will be suggested.

Difference between Palliative care and End of life care.

Though the aim of Palliative care and end-of-life care is similar as they both focus on pain relief, providing emotional and spiritual support and improving quality of life of the patient and the caregivers, there are differences between the two as well.

Specifically, if we talk of cancer, Palliative care is a type of care which supports anyone diagnosed with the disease irrespective of the intent of the treatment. A cancer diagnosis is always accompanied by a plethora of emotions- anger, disbelief, shock, fear, insecurities and the many side effects of the treatment. At such a time a multidisciplinary team comprising of clinicians, counselors, spiritual leaders and social workers can work towards providing better quality of life for the patient and their families. Many cancer patients with curative intent receiving palliative care recover from their illness. Palliative care for such people may happen on an as-needed basis which means the patient and their families may seek it only when their symptoms warrant more support.

Many times Palliative care is available from the first diagnosis through to end-of-life care for those people who live well for years with the disease which at some point progresses. Therefore, Palliative care also includes end-of-life care for such people. End-of-life care is a type of palliative care which aims to provide comfortable, dignified & respectful support as a person reaches the end of their life. It's for those people with terminal cancer who are likely to die within the next few months (although, it’s not always possible to predict when someone will die). A patient on End-of-life care will continue to receive speciality care till their death.

End-of-life care can be given either at home or in a hospice!

To sum it up, both palliative care and end of life care can help to cope with the many aspects of cancer which include managing symptoms caused by the disease, providing counselling and resolving spiritual and cultural issues. Therefore, it's right to say that Palliative care may also include end-of-life care


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