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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Is palliative care only for people with cancer?

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    CareSearch is an online resource designed to help those needing relevant and trustworthy information and resources about palliative care. The website has been funded by … View Profile

    CareSearch is an online source of free, trustworthy evidence-based palliative care information with separate sections written specifically for consumers and health professionals. We are funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing.

    No, palliative care is not just for people with cancer.  Palliative care is not limited to people with one health condition.

    Although palliative care does provide support and care for many people with cancer, more often nowadays, people living with other diseases are being offered palliative care services. This may include people who have:

    • Alzheimer’s' disease
    • AIDS
    • Motor Neurone Disease and multiple sclerosis
    • Advanced lung, heart, kidney and liver disease
    • Disabling stroke and other neurological diseases
    • Dementia.
    Many of the symptoms that cancer patients have are experienced by people with other diseases. Palliative care services can help with these and other problems that result from a life-limiting illness.

    Palliative care can be provided in the early stages of an illness. This can happen while people are still having active treatment. Palliative care teams will often work alongside other health teams to provide care together.

    It may be more difficult for a person who doesn’t have cancer to accept palliative care. Over the years active treatment may have been given even when that person has been quite seriously ill. It can be difficult to now recognise when the person should be referred for support from palliative care. Things may not appear to be very different now, or are perhaps slowly changing, which can make it difficult.

    You can find out more about what palliative care is and disease-specific resources on the CareSearch website.

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