Palliative care involves symptom control as well as social, spiritual, and psychological support. It is administered by a team of doctors, nurses, and other professionals who have been specially trained in this area. A palliative care team can also include social workers or nutritionists, depending on your needs. Palliative care is designed to improve quality of life, especially in patients living with metastatic bladder cancer.
Some symptoms that may be dealt with through palliative care include:
- Depression and/or anxiety
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty sleeping
Palliative care is not necessarily only given at the end of life, and can even be provided from the initial time of diagnosis. Your regular doctors and healthcare team can provide it, or it may be provided by a specialized palliative care team.
These teams can help you deal with the full range of your cancer symptoms, as well as helping you with big-picture decisions. It is designed to make the cancer experience easier.
Here are some myths and facts concerning palliative care (1):
1. If I get palliative care, that means I can’t have any more cancer treatment: FALSE.
Incorporating palliative care into your cancer care has resulted in higher patient satisfaction. If your cancer doctor refers you to a palliative care specialist, they will work together to optimize your quality of life.
2. I don’t have pain, so I can’t get palliative care: FALSE.
Palliative care addresses much more than just pain. Examples of issues that are addressed in palliative care include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, appetite loss, sleeping problems, depression, anxiety, and much more.
3. I didn’t get chemotherapy for my bladder cancer, so I can’t get palliative care: FALSE.
Some patients experience bad bladder symptoms after treatments like BCG or radiation, and pain or bowel problems after surgery. Palliative care can be used for these types of problems, too.
Information taken from Bladder Cancer Canada unless otherwise indicated.
(1) “Palliative Care”, Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network, 2017. https://www.bcan.org/palliative-care/