Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems (physical, psychosocial, and spiritual).
* provides relief from pain and other distressing symptoms
* affirms life and regards dying as a normal process
* intends neither to hasten or postpone death
* integrates the psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care
* offers a support system to help patients live as actively as possible until death
* offers a support system to help the family cope during the patient's illness and in their own bereavement
* uses a team approach to address the needs of patients and their families, including bereavement counselling, if indicated
* will enhance quality of life, and may also positively influence the course of illness
* is applicable early in the course of illness, in conjunction with other therapies that are intended to prolong life, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, and includes those investigations needed to better understand and manage distressing clinical complications
WHO. National Cancer Control Programs: Policies and Managerial Guidelines, 2nd ed. Geneva: WHO, 2002.