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Palliative Care Provides Pain Relief to Cancer Patients
October 19, 2016

At St. Luke’s University Health Network, we’re committed to providing compassionate comprehensive cancer care. To accomplish this, our cancer specialists work closely with colleagues in the Department of Palliative & Supportive Care. We understand that having cancer can be stressful and overwhelming for our patients and their families. We’re here to help alleviate suffering and improve our patients’ quality of life.

Palliative Care is a medical specialty that supports patients with serious illnesses. Most cancer treatments entail some combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.  We help support our patients by treating the symptoms of cancer and the side effects of treatments. Although we can help manage a whole host of symptoms including nausea, shortness of breath, or fatigue, one of the most common symptoms we manage is pain. When we assess pain we look at all aspects of the experience including physical, psychological, social and spiritual.

Palliative care physicians are experts in medications used to treat pain. There are several different kinds of pain and several categories of medications that can be helpful in managing pain. Often times, combination therapy is needed. Medications can also be delivered in several ways including pills, liquids, patches, creams, sprays and pumps. In addition to prescribing pain medication we also look at things going on in a patient’s life that can reduce their pain tolerance. These other non-pain symptoms are also important for us to address and can include: anxiety, depression, stress, fear, anger, lack of sleep and inadequate nutrition. The complexity of pain also sometimes requires that we call on our colleagues in physical therapy, massage therapy, or practitioners in non-traditional fields such as acupuncture.

Exploring all aspects of pain management involves deep and meaningful communication and the development of a trusting relationship. We want to help our patients retain control over their lives by helping them meet their goals and making them aware of all the treatment options.

If you or your loved one is facing cancer and may benefit from getting involved with the Palliative & Supportive Care team, ask your doctor for a referral. Our services are currently available at the Anderson and Bethlehem campuses.  Our team includes Drs. Baxter, Collier, and Pipestone. Our newest team additions include nurse practitioner Kim Yoon, CRNP, and social worker Megan Williams-Meagher.