Appropriate to offer palliative care early in the management of patients with symptomatic, metastatic breast cancer to improve symptom control and quality of life.
Palliative care includes more than care for people who are dying or nearing the end of their life. It focuses on relieving symptoms and improving quality of life for patients with life-threatening illness. This includes not only helping to control physical symptoms such as pain, but also on emotional wellbeing, relationships with others and spiritual needs.
A proportion of women with early breast cancer will experience progression of their disease, while some women have metastatic (also known as secondary or advanced) disease at diagnosis. These women may live with metastatic breast cancer for a number of years, and receive treatment which, while no longer curative, is aimed at delaying the progression of the cancer, relieving cancer-related symptoms, and improving quality of life.
Studies have shown that the early initiation of palliative care for patients with metastatic cancer can lead to improved pain control and symptom management, improved patient satisfaction and quality of life, reduced anxiety and delivery of care that better matches the patients’ preferences.
Value to patients
Discussing the options for palliative care with patients with metastatic breast cancer will assist them to address their physical and emotional needs and to make informed decisions about their cancer care.
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