Palliative care (PC) can be helpful in addressing both symptom concerns and psychosocial issues in cancer survivors. Symptoms following cancer often persist for months to years. Although cancer patients may need the involvement of a mental health specialist, a referral to PC will provide the most comprehensive assessment of all of her physical and psychosocial needs.
Many significant quality-of-life concerns continue after cancer treatment, including pain, fatigue, weight loss or gain, insomnia, anxiety, sexuality concerns, and other problems.
In addition to the physical effects of treatment, many psychosocial and spiritual problems are associated with cancer survivorship. Patients struggle with the adjustment after cancer diagnosis and treatment and may experience depression, anxiety, survivorship guilt, the challenges of living with uncertainty, and spiritual or existential distress.
Furthermore, although many patients will be long-term survivors, others may experience recurrences or develop second malignancies or delayed treatment effects.
The key principles of PC also apply to survivorship care: it can provide relief of distressing physical symptoms as well as psychosocial support.
Early integration of PC with survivorship care can be a key to quality cancer care.
Adapted from Medscape News & Perspective. Palliative care for cancer survivors? Available at https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/889961_2 . Accessed on December 22, 2017. To view the entire article and all other content on the Medscape News and Perspective site, a free, one-time registration is required.