Organizations Recommend Palliative Care
The number of medical and patient support organizations actively recommending palliative care continues to grow for people living with serious illnesses, and for good reason: palliative care focuses on relieving the symptoms and stress of the illness, and 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. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in your illness, and it can be provided along with curative treatment.
See what the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, American College of Chest Physicians, American Society of Clinical Oncology, and the American Heart Association have to say:
5 Ways Supportive (Palliative) Care Can Help at Diagnosis: The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network “strongly recommends that symptom management and supportive (palliative) care should be provided early in a patient’s diagnosis.” They also say “there are many benefits to starting it early”. This is in sync with recommendations from the main professional organization representing oncologists – American Society of Clinical Oncology (see below).
CHEST Releases Updated Guidelines for PAH Treatment: As reported in Pulmonary Hypertension News in February 2019, palliative care services have been added to a new update of medical recommendations to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), a progressive lung disorder caused by increased pressure in the lung blood vessels. The update comes from the American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST), based on input from a team of clinicians made up of pulmonologists and chronic disease experts.
American Society of Clinical Oncology: ASCO guidelines issued in 2016 recommend that patients with advanced cancer should “receive dedicated palliative care services, early in the disease course, concurrent with active treatment.” The guidelines specify that care be delivered by specialized teams, and available in both hospital and community settings. Some of the key components of palliative care noted by ASCO include building rapport and relationships with patients and family caregivers; managing symptoms and distress; communicating about the illness and assisting with medical decision-making; understanding and supporting coping needs; and coordinating care with other providers.
American Heart Association/American Stroke Association: A policy statement issued in 2016 calls for the integration of palliative care “into the care of all patients with advanced cardiovascular disease and stroke early in the disease trajectory.” The statement describes palliative care as central to high-quality care and describes benefits such as: “improved patient and caregiver understanding of disease, treatment, and prognosis; improved treatment of symptoms and relief of suffering; shared decision making based on patient values, preferences, and goals; and enhanced patient-clinician communication”. The care can be provided by the primary medical care providers or in collaboration with a specially trained palliative care team.
To learn if palliative care is right for you, take this quiz. Check the Provider Directory to find a palliative care provider in your area. See tips on how to ask your primary doctor for a referral to a palliative care team.