Mesothelioma palliative care needs to be part of your plan from the start. If your doctor does not bring up the subject, then you should. Why? Palliative care is a term derived from Latin palliare, “to cloak.” Mesothelioma palliative care aims to cloak the symptoms, pain and stress of the illness for you.
Need another reason? The results of a 2010 study in The New England Journal of Medicine showed that lung cancer patients receiving early palliative care experienced less depression, increased quality of life and survived 2.7 months longer than those receiving standard oncologic care.
Palliative care has become a recognized subspecialty, with fellowships, hospital departments and medical school courses aimed at managing patients’ last months.
What is Mesothelioma Palliative Care?
Mesothelioma palliative care follows the same guidelines for palliative care for other chronic and life-threatening illnesses. These are set forth by the World Health Organization (WHO). Palliative care is defined by WHO as an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing life-threatening illness such as mesothelioma through the prevention and relief of suffering by early identification, assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual.
Palliative care, according to official WHO guidelines:
- provides relief from pain and other distressing symptoms
- affirms life and regards dying as a normal process intends neither to hasten or postpone death
- integrates the psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care
- offers a support system to help patients live as actively as possible until death offers a support system to help the family cope during the patient’s illness and in their own bereavement
- uses a team approach to address the needs of patients and their families, including bereavement counseling, if indicated
- will enhance quality of life, and may also positively influence the course of illness
- is applicable early in the course of illness, in conjunction with other therapies that are intended to prolong life, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy
What Palliative Care Treatments Are Used For Mesothelioma?
Symptom management is the key to mesothelioma palliative care. Medications used for palliative purposes are used differently from how they are used in standard medications. Examples include the use of anti-psychotic medications to treat nausea, anti-convulsants to treat pain, and morphine to treat shortness of breath. Routes of administration may differ from acute or chronic care. A common alternative route of administration is injection, as it is less traumatic and less difficult to maintain than being hooked up to intravenous medications. Other routes of administration include medications dissolved under the tongue or applied as a skin patch. Palliative medications are often managed at home by family.
However, when a patient exhibits a physiological symptom, there are often psychological, social or spiritual symptoms as well. The interdisciplinary team, which often includes a registered nurse, a licensed mental health professional, a licensed social worker or a counselor and spiritual support such as a chaplain, can play a role in helping mesothelioma patients and their families cope with these symptoms, rather than depending on the medical/pharmacological interventions alone.
At Mesothelioma Circle we have found a free online guidebook for palliative caregivers that may help increase their understanding of palliative care medications commonly given to people, including mesothelioma patients, cared for at home by family members. It is produced by Australia’s Brisbane South Palliative Care Collaborative. You can find it by copying and pasting the link below into your browser:
Mesothelioma Palliative Care To Improve Quality of Life
Palliative care for mesothelioma is essential to improve your quality of life. Maintaining good symptom control through palliative care can help free up some of your precious energy from pain giving you more energy for other things in your life that are important to you now.