- Cancer Information
- Advanced cancer
- Palliative care
- Key questions about palliative care
- When can I start palliative care?
When can I start palliative care?
Once you know the cancer is advanced and likely to shorten your life, it is a good idea to start exploring the services that can be provided by palliative care. Talk to your cancer care team about a referral to palliative care. You can find out what the different team members do and which services might be relevant now or in the future.
Sorting out care sooner rather than later will reduce stress on you and your family. It will give you time to better understand and manage any physical symptoms (such as pain or nausea), and to consider your practical, emotional and spiritual needs.
Some people live comfortably for months or years after a diagnosis of advanced cancer, and can be supported by palliative care services as needed throughout this time. For others, the cancer advances quickly so that their care is focused on end-of-life needs soon after their referral to a palliative care service. Whatever stage you’re at, your palliative care team will work with you to continually assess your changing needs and adjust your care.
I only found out about palliative care a few years ago. For me, this made such a positive difference – I now have equipment such as a walking frame, wheelchair, shower seat and toilet seat. My palliative care nurses visit me at home twice a week.
Prof Katherine Clark, Clinical Director, Palliative Care, Northern Sydney Local Health District Cancer & Palliative Care Network, and Conjoint Professor, Northern Clinical School, University of Sydney, NSW; Richard Austin, Social Worker, Specialist Palliative Care Service, TAS; Sondra Davoren, Manager, Treatment and Supportive Care, McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer, VIC; A/Prof Brian Le, Director of Palliative Care, Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre – The Royal Melbourne Hospital and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Cathy McDonnell, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Concord Centre for Palliative Care, Concord Hospital, NSW; Natalie Munro, Team Leader, PalAssist, QLD; Penelope Murphy, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council NSW; Kate Reed, Nurse Practitioner Clinical Advisor, Palliative Care Australia; Merrilyn Sim, Consumer. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title. We particularly acknowledge the input of Palliative Care Australia and their permission to quote from €œBrian’s Story €_x009d_ in A Journey Lived – a collection of personal stories from carers (2005).
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
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Key questions about advanced cancer
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