From Prasad R. Kudalkar, MD, Medical Oncologist and Hematologist with OHC

October 11, 2021

A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center revealed that nearly 90% of American adults have inadequate knowledge of palliative care. Why is there a tremendous knowledge gap about a healthcare service proven to optimize treatment, improve quality of life, extend life, and reduce both hospitalizations and healthcare costs? My OHC colleagues and I want to bring more awareness to critical supportive care services for patients with chronic illnesses including cancer.

Oftentimes, the terms palliative care and supportive care are used interchangeably to refer to specialized medical care aimed at improving the quality of life for people living with a serious illness. The Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer defines supportive care in cancer as the prevention and management of the adverse effects of cancer and its treatment.

In 2017, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) recommended that every person diagnosed with advanced stage cancer receive palliative/supportive care within eight weeks of diagnosis. OHC has a Supportive Care Program available to all patients at every stage of their cancer journey, from diagnosis, through treatment, survivorship, and end-of-life care. Our doctors and advanced practice providers help patients manage their disease symptoms and treatment side effects while openly discussing physical, emotional, social, and spiritual well-being. And, we’re here to offer support to loved ones and caregivers who often cope with a barrage of emotions and uncertainties that can affect their welfare.

At OHC, our multidisciplinary team encourages palliative/supportive care conversations with patients and their loved ones. Furthermore, we need to overcome the misconception that palliative/supportive care is equivalent to end of life care. While palliative/supportive care does include advanced care planning, it seeks to prolong life while providing for an enhanced quality of life.

As cancer treatment advances rapidly evolve, more patients are surviving longer. Healthcare providers must evaluate patient rehabilitation and equip patients with the tools they need to return to their normal activities. Moreover, new therapies have the potential to create new side effects. Palliative/supportive care calls us to understand these effects and assist patients with management.

Patients should feel empowered to have a voice in their care, sharing their priorities and treatment goals. As patients entrust their healthcare to us, my colleagues and I offer them options and resources that will optimize treatment and help them achieve more independence.

Saturday was World Hospice and Palliative Care Day. At OHC, we hope to create more understanding around the subject of palliative/supportive care and we urge all cancer patients to have open discussions with their healthcare providers about their treatment goals and matters affecting their quality of life. For more information on OHC’s Supportive Care Program or to request a second opinion, call 1-888-649-4800 or visit ohcare.com.

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