- Cancer Information
- Supporting someone with cancer
- Caring for someone with advanced cancer
- Palliative care
Palliative care is person-centred care that helps people with a progressive, life-limiting illness to live as comfortably as possible. The goal of palliative care is to improve quality of life for both the person with cancer, and their family and carers.
Learn more about:
- What palliative care involves
- How palliative care works
- Video: What is palliative care?
- Podcast: Caring for Someone with Advanced Cancer
What palliative care involves
Palliative care doesn’t mean giving up hope. It is not just for end-of-life care – it may be beneficial for people at any stage of advanced cancer.
Palliative care services
The palliative care team will help identify services that can offer emotional and practical support to you in your caring role. These may include:
- relief of the person’s symptoms (e.g. pain, breathlessness, nausea)
- help organising equipment for home (e.g. mobility aids, special beds)
- help with discussions about sensitive issues and suitable care options
- links to other services such as home help and financial support
- support for people to meet cultural obligations
- counselling, grief and bereavement support
- support for emotional, social and spiritual concerns
- referrals to respite care services.
If the person chooses not to have active treatment for the cancer, palliative care can help ensure any symptoms are well controlled and the person is comfortable. The palliative care team can help you understand what is happening and what happens next.
Our cancer care team talked about how palliative care could make my husband’s life easier and more meaningful. I found it so useful to know that help was available when I needed it.Anna
When to startPalliative care is useful at all stages of advanced cancer and can be given alongside active treatment for cancer. Connecting with the palliative care team early on can help improve quality of life.
Who provides carePalliative care may be led by a GP, nurse practitioner or community nurse or, if the person’s needs are complex, by a specialist palliative care team.
Where care is providedThe palliative care team will work with you and the person you are caring for to plan the best place for 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).
Your roleCarers are considered part of the palliative care team. With the agreement of the person being cared for, the palliative care team will include you in decisions about their care and treatment.
Accepting helpIf you have been providing most of the person’s care, it can be difficult to let other people take over some tasks. As the caring demands are likely to keep increasing as the cancer progresses, accepting help can mean you can spend more quality time with the person you’re caring for.
For more on this, call Cancer Council 13 11 20, or see Palliative care.
Video: What is palliative care?
Watch this video to see how palliative treatment aims to manage symptoms and improve people’s quality of life without trying to cure the disease.
Podcast: Caring for Someone with Advanced Cancer
Dr Alison White, Palliative Medicine Specialist, Royal Perth Hospital, WA; Tracey Bilson, Consumer; Louise Dillon, Consumer; Louise Durham, Nurse Practitioner, Palliative Care Outpatients, Princess Alexandra Hospital, QLD; Katrina Elias, Carers Program, South Western Sydney Local Health District, NSW Health, NSW; Jessica Elliott, Social Worker, Youth Cancer Services, Crown Princess Mary Cancer Centre, Westmead Hospital, NSW; Brendan Myhill, Social Worker and Bereavement Research Officer, Concord Repatriation General Hospital, NSW; Penny Neller, Project Coordinator, National Palliative Care Projects, Australian Centre for Health Law Research, Queensland University of Technology, QLD; Olivia Palac, Acting Assistant Director, Occupational Therapy, Gold Coast University Hospital, QLD; Nicole Rampton, Advanced Occupational Therapist, Cancer Services, Gold Coast University Hospital, QLD; Shirley Roberts, Nurse Consultant, Medical Oncology, Northern Adelaide Cancer Centre, SA; Dr Elysia Thornton-Benko, Specialist General Practitioner, and UNSW Research Fellow, NSW; Kathleen Wilkins, Consumer; Helen Zahra, Carers Program, South Western Sydney Local Health District, NSW Health, NSW.
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