Palliative Care for Everyone

I’m caught up in the current chatter of the cost of cancer care. 

 How it’s related to treatment, how oncologists are handling the pressure of cost and treatment, and is there a better place to direct the care when treatment is no longer a potential life extender.   There are probably many other layers that go into this discussion too. 

How about the pressure it puts on a doctor?  If the cancer has spread, does the doctor continue treatment or is this the time to take those dollars and put them to good use with palliative care or even hospice?

Does a doctor feel like a failure when the only real “next step” is treating the symptoms and not the disease?  At some point, taking the pain away could be even more important than treating the disease.  Cancer hurts, especially advanced cancer. 

If a patient is lucky enough to be treated by a multi-disciplinary team, odds are the pain team is there to respond quickly.  If there is no multi-disciplinary group, it’s important for the care-giver to advocate for the patient and ask for a pain specialist or a palliative care expert in the case of advanced disease.

I’m not sure oncologists are programmed to stop treatment.  It’s not their fault, their patients aren’t programmed to quit either.  So maybe both sides of  this discussion need a little re-wiring.  There are a lot of dollars up for grabs here and a lot of lives on the line too.

Maybe we all need a little palliative care on this topic.


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