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Palliative Care & Advanced Cancer

In advanced cancer the goal for treatment has two aims:  maintain or improve quality of life and extend life as long as possible.


The balance between quality and quantity of life should be discussed fully between the patient and their health care providers. Sometimes, in spite of the best efforts of the oncologists and other health care providers, cancer advances to a point where it can’t be cured. 

Treatment options at this point can include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, other medications and counselling. Other options available can include classes, respite and hospice. 

Palliative care and symptom management, which are part of every cancer patient’s treatment, can continue to benefit the patient at this stage of life. Patient and Family Counselling can offer support to patients and caregivers. 


Advanced cancer is defined as cancer that is unlikely to be cured. Healthcare professionals may also use the terms secondary, metastatic, terminal or progressive cancer to describe it. 


Palliative care (pronounced pal-lee-uh-tiv) is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. This type of care is focused on providing patients with relief from symptoms, pain and stress of a serious illness, whatever the diagnosis. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family. 

Palliative care is provided by a team of doctors, nurses and other specialists who work with a patient’s other doctors to provide an extra layer of support. Palliative care is appropriate at any age. 

Palliative care is appropriate at any stage in a serious illness and can be provided together with curative treatment. A palliative care team will help to develop a personal treatment plan, which may include medication and non-medicinal supports.

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