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What Is Palliative Care?

Legally Reviewed by Joseph P. Williams on June 29, 2021

Palliative care is designed for people who are living with serious terminal illnesses. Rather than curing the illness, the purpose of palliative care is to make the patient as comfortable as possible for the patient’s remaining life. Palliative care helps to relieve symptoms and side effects connected to the illness. It is common in mesothelioma cases, as this is a terminal illness with no known cure. 

At The Williams Law Firm, P.C., we understand palliative care and how it fits into a larger mesothelioma treatment plan. While you should always talk to your doctor about palliative care in your case, we hope these frequently asked questions can help bring greater peace of mind to you and your family during this difficult time. For information about your legal rights after a mesothelioma diagnosis, contact our local and experienced New York mesothelioma attorneys for a free consultation.

What Is the Difference Between Curative and Palliative Care?

The goal of curative care is to cure the disease or illness; to overcome it and promote recovery. Curative care for an illness may include treatments such as surgeries, therapies and medications. If a patient has a terminal illness that is not curable and curative care is not a possibility, however, a team of specialists will apply palliative care instead. 

Palliative care is defined as care that affords relief, not a cure. In a mesothelioma case, palliative care is designed to relieve common symptoms, such as chest pain and lack of appetite. Palliative care for a mesothelioma patient aims to relieve painful or uncomfortable symptoms to improve the patient’s quality of living in his or her last years of life. 

What Are the Principles of Palliative Care?

Key policies and guidelines for palliative care that are accepted widely by the medical industry identify several principles for this type of patient care, including:

  1. Care is centered on the patient and his or her family. Palliative care requires the patient, his or her family, and the caregiver to be involved in the goals and strategies of the care.
  2. Care is provided based on assessed needs. This ensures that every patient receives an individualized care plan that changes as his or her needs change.
  3. Patients and families have access to necessary services. Providing care at home or in a local hospital means that families and caregivers need access to quality professional support close by.
  4. Care is clinically proven to be safe and effective. Palliative care should be evidence-based and meet the clinical, psychological and cultural needs of the patient.
  5. Care is integrated and coordinated. The patient’s care plan should deliver seamless care within the health system, placing the patient at the center of a support system that addresses his or her complex needs.

These are only five of the many principles that must be considered when planning, coordinating and applying palliative care to a patient with malignant mesothelioma. 

What Is Included in Palliative Care?

Palliative care is custom-tailored according to the needs of the individual patient, not the patient’s prognosis. A palliative care plan is comprehensive and may involve solutions for pain control, emotional care, psychiatric needs, social issues, spiritual or religious issues, grief and bereavement for family members, ethical issues, potential emergencies, legal requirements, and how to prevent caretaker burnout. Exactly what services and support palliative care involves will depend on the patient and case.

How Long Do Mesothelioma Live in Palliative Care?

The answer to this question will depend on the patient, his or her specific diagnosis, the type of mesothelioma, the stage of the cancer, the patient’s response to treatments, and many other factors. A patient with mesothelioma may need palliative care for a few months to several years or longer. The average lifespan of a patient with mesothelioma ranges significantly, from 1 to 22 months and longer. A patient may rely on palliative care for the rest of his or her life after all options for curative care have been exhausted.

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