Research shows people want palliative care. In an opinion poll in 2011, the US polling firm Public Opinion Strategies found that once they had informed their respondents about palliative care, 92 per cent reported they would be highly likely to consider palliative care for themselves or for their families if they had a serious illness. They also said they believe patients should have access to this type of care at hospitals nationwide. This report underscores the need for more information dissemination about palliative care and its benefits.

Further, medical evidence suggests that the older philosophy of introducing palliative care at the later stages of a disease is not as effective as early integration, preferably at the time of initial diagnosis. At this early stage, palliative care visits concentrate on symptom management and awareness of prognosis. In 2012, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) recommended that palliative care should be integrated early in the illness for patients with metastatic cancer and/or a high symptom process.

Another recent study in The New England Journal of Medicine shows that including palliative care along with standard treatment can improve quality of life and help people with cancer live longer.

By closely matching treatments with patients’ goals, and improving their quality of life and quality of care, palliative care can also provide substantial cost reduction which is an important issue in India.

Benefits of palliative care for people with cancer include:

  • The ability to fully complete treatment
  • Improved quality of life during treatment
  • Increased ability to perform daily activities
  • Living longer
  • Improved ability to deal with emotions
  • Increased connection to social support
  • Fewer hospitalizations