Palliative Care

Man with outstretched hands looking to the sky Your body will go through many changes as you receive and recover from treatment for lung cancer. You may experience pain and a variety of other symptoms during this time and want to seek out palliative careCare aimed at making the patient more comfortable and improving quality of life. Hospice care always includes palliative care but palliative care can be administered at any stage of a disease..

Palliative care is…

  • The medical specialty focused on relieving pain, stress and other symptoms to improve your quality of life.
  • Care received at the same time as treatment.
  • Care to be discussed even before you have side effects.
  • A specialty that uses a variety of medications to address symptoms and discomfort.

Palliative care is NOT…

  • Only administered during hospice care.
  • A signal that treatment is not working or a replacement for treatment.
  • Morphine only treatment.
  • Something you should wait to ask for.

Palliative care is appropriate at all stages of the illness, not just during end of life care. It is perfectly okay for you to ask for palliative care. It does not signal that you are weak or complaining about your symptoms. Palliative care provides relief from a variety of physical and emotional symptoms. Tracking your symptoms can help you explain what you are feeling to your doctor who can help you get palliative care.

Here are just a few examples of symptoms that can be improved through palliative care:

  • Anxiety
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Nausea
  • Pain
  • Problems with Sleep
  • Shortness of Breath

The type of palliative care you receive depends on your needs and may change throughout your treatment process. Here are some examples of types of palliative care:

  • Procedures to open airways
  • Medications to treat pain
  • Medications to suppress cough, open closed airways and improve breathing
  • Extra oxygen from small, portable tanks
  • Medications to make you hungry
  • Emotional support and counseling
  • Nutritional supplements to reduce weight loss
  • Medications to reduce nausea

How do I get palliative care?

Start talking. You can discuss palliative care right at diagnosis and throughout your care. Together with your health care team you can make treatment decisions that allow you to live the best life possible during this time.

Who provides palliative care?

Your palliative care team will work with your primary doctor. The team will include experts like palliative care doctors, nurses and social workers. The team may also work with chaplains, pharmacists, nutritionists, counselors and others.

Where do I get palliative care?

Palliative care is provided in hospitals, clinics and some long-term care facilities and at home. In some communities, there are special palliative care centers.

Early detection of lung cancer can increase survival rates. Call the Lung Helpline at 1-800-LUNGUSA or talk to your doctor about lung cancer screening.