- Cancer Information
- Advanced cancer
- Living with advanced cancer
- Treatment for advanced cancer
- Palliative care
Palliative care is person-centred care that helps people with a progressive life-limiting illness to live as fully and comfortable as possible. The main goal is to help you maintain your quality of life by identifying and meeting your physical, emotional, cultural, social and spiritual needs. It also provides support to families and carers.
Many people are reluctant to use palliative care because they think it is just for people who are dying, but it is useful at all stages of advanced cancer. Starting palliative care from the time of diagnosis can help improve quality of life.
Depending on your needs, you may use palliative care services occasionally or continuously for a few weeks or months. The number of people receiving palliative care for several years is increasing.
Contacting the palliative care team early means that you can find out what the different team members do and see which services might be useful now or in the future. This will vary according to how you feel, what problems you have, and how your carers are managing.
Palliative care involves a range of services that will be tailored to your individual needs.
Services may include:
- relief of pain, breathlessness, nausea and other symptoms
- help organising equipment for home (e.g. wheelchairs, special beds)
- links to other services such as home help and financial support
- counselling, grief and bereavement support
- referrals to respite care services
- volunteer services trained in palliative care.
Your palliative care may be led by your GP or community nurse, or by the specialist palliative care team in your area. The palliative care team will help you work out the best place for your care. This may be at home supported by community palliative care services, in hospital, at a residential aged care facility or in a palliative care unit (hospice).
For more information about what palliative care is and how it helps, visit the Palliative Care Australia website, Palliative Care. Use the directory on this website to find a palliative care service in your local area, or speak to your doctor or nurse.
I’ve been having palliative treatment for five years. I’m not trying to get rid of the disease, just keeping it under control. My quality of life is excellent.
How palliative treatment can help
Medical treatment is a key part of palliative care.
Some examples of palliative medical treatment include:
Prof Nicholas Glasgow, Head, Calvary Palliative and End of Life Care Research Institute, ACT; Kathryn Bennett, Nurse Practitioner, Eastern Palliative Care Association Inc., VIC; Dr Maria Ftanou, Head, Clinical Psychology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, and Research Fellow, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne, VIC; Erin Ireland, Legal Counsel, Cancer Council NSW; Nikki Johnston, Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner, Clare Holland House, Calvary Public Hospital Bruce, ACT; Judy Margolis, Consumer; Linda Nolte, Program Director, Advance Care Planning Australia; Kate Reed- Cox, Nurse Practitioner, National Clinical Advisor, Palliative Care Australia; Helena Rodi, Project Manager, Advance Care Planning Australia; Kaitlyn Thorne, Coordinator Cancer Support, 13 11 20, Cancer Council Queensland.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
Click below to download a PDF booklet on this topic.