How Can Palliative Care be Beneficial for Someone with Advanced Breast Cancer

Breast cancer and its treatment cause a wide range of physical, emotional, social, and financial effects. Managing these effects can be challenging, but there are services to help. Palliative care, for instance, focuses on managing symptoms and improving how you feel during treatment. It can also offer support to loved ones.

Palliative care is an option for anyone with a serious illness. You can take advantage of it at any age and stage of the disease. It can also accompany curative treatments like radiation, surgery, and chemotherapy. Let’s learn more about palliative care and how it can help someone who has advanced breast cancer.

What is Palliative Care? What Issues are Addressed?

The goal of palliative care is to improve the quality of life for patients who have a serious or life-threatening disease, such as breast cancer. The symptoms and side effects of the disease and its treatment are addressed proactively so that patients remain comfortable. This care can be delivered in a hospital, outpatient clinic, long-term care facility, or even at home.

Chemotherapy or radiation can continue while receiving palliative care.   A Palliative Care specialist can assist with :

  • Physical symptoms. Common physical symptoms of breast cancer and its treatment are pain, fatigue, constipation or diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, trouble sleeping, and poor appetite.
  • Emotional symptoms. Palliative care experts work with patients and their families to help them understand their breast cancer diagnosis. Depression, anxiety, and fear are some of the most common symptoms that can be easily treated to improve quality of life.
  • Spiritual.  Many patients with advanced cancer seek to benefit from spiritual support.  A social worker and chaplain can explore this with the patient and/or caregiver.
  • Practical needs. Transportation, medical appointments, blood draws, and medical equipment like a hospital bed or oxygen can be efficiently arranged by the palliative care team. A medical social worker can also assist with navigating insurance benefits and filling out medical leave forms.Physical therapy can also be arranged at home.

How Can Palliative Care Help Someone with Breast Cancer?

It’s best to start palliative care as soon as the diagnosis is received. This way, the patient has the necessary resources to get through all stages of the disease and treatment. People who receive palliative care have an improved quality of life through symptom and pain management and are less likely to return to the hospital.

Here are some of the ways that palliative care can be beneficial for advanced breast cancer:

  • Helps relieve physical symptoms and addresses emotional needs
  • Address depression, anxiety, and fear through counseling, support groups, and family meetings
  • Offer a wide range of medications  and holistic approaches (nutrition, mindfulness, and breath control) to help with pain, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea/vomiting, shortness of breath, and trouble sleeping
  • Understand why this is happening and ways to cope with the diagnosis
  • Improve the quality of life through listening, understanding, and a compassionate presence
  • Avoid unproductive hospitalization and assist with medical decision-making, according to patient and family goals
  • Provide support to caregivers and loved ones

Arrange for Palliative Care with VNA Health Group

If you or a loved one has received a breast cancer diagnosis, contact VNA Health Group right away by calling 732-224-6654. You will likely benefit from VNA Health Group’s Palliative Care Program which provides comfort care, symptom management, coordination of care, and end-of-life planning.


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