Common palliative treatments
See below some common types of palliative care treatments.
Surgery can be used to:
- remove all or part of a tumour from affected areas, such as the bowel or lymph nodes
- relieve discomfort caused by tumours blocking organs or pressing on nerves
- reduce tumour size (debulking) to help improve outcomes from chemotherapy and radiation therapy insert a thin tube (stent) into a blocked organ to create a passage for substances to pass through
Learn more about Surgery.
Drugs can travel throughout the body. This is called systemic treatment.
Drug therapies include:
- chemotherapy – the use of drugs to kill or slow the growth of cancer cells
- hormone therapy – drugs that stop the body’s natural hormones from helping some cancers to grow
- immunotherapy – treatment that uses the body’s own immune system to fight cancer
- targeted therapy – drugs that target specific features of cancer cells to stop the cancer growing.
Some drug therapies: can shrink a cancer that is causing pain because of its size or location; slow the growth of the cancer; and help control symptoms, including pain and loss of appetite. Other drug therapies can reduce inflammation and relieve symptoms such as bone pain.
This uses a controlled dose of radiation to kill or damage cancer cells so they cannot grow, multiply or spread. Radiation therapy can shrink tumours or stop them spreading further. It can also relieve some symptoms, such as pain from secondary cancers in the bones. You can have radiation therapy in different ways and doses. It can be given in single or multiple visits.
Learn more about Radiation therapy.
Podcast: Treatment Options for Advanced Cancer
Dr Cynthia Parr, Specialist in Palliative Care, HammondCare and Macquarie University Hospital, NSW; Dr Lisa Cuddeford, Clinical Lead, WA Paediatric Palliative Care Service, WA; Dr Laura Kirsten, Principal Clinical Psychologist, Nepean Cancer Care Centre, NSW; Penny Neller, Project Coordinator, National Palliative Care Projects, Australian Centre for Health Law Research, Queensland University of Technology, QLD; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; A/Prof Peter Poon, Director, Supportive and Palliative Care, Monash Health, and Adjunct Associate Professor, Monash University, VIC; Dr Kathy Pope, Radiation Oncologist, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Kate Reed-Cox, Nurse Practitioner National Clinical Advisor, Palliative Care Australia; Juliane Samara, Nurse Practitioner, Clare Holland House – Specialist Palliative Aged Care, Calvary Public Hospital, ACT; Annabelle Solomon, Consumer; Silvia Stickel, Consumer; Kaitlyn Thorne, Manager, PalAssist, Cancer Council Queensland; Kim Vu, Consumer; Rosie Whitford, Social Worker – Grief, Bereavement and Community Palliative Care, Prince of Wales Hospital, NSW.
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