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If your tumour has spread to other organs or tissues (metastases), surgery is not a treatment option. At this point, treatment should reduce symptoms and maintain your quality of life. This is the main focus of palliative care. During palliative care, you and your loved ones are supported by a multidisciplinary team. Together you address physical, psychological, social, and spiritual issues. Palliative care includes controlling your symptoms and medical treatment for pain management.

The palliative care team can provide care in the hospital or at your home. Another option is hospice care. A hospice is an institution which provides care during the final phase of your life. Talk to the palliative care team and your family about your feelings and your wishes. It is important to discuss:

  • Your symptoms and how much bother they cause
  • The possibility of getting help with cleaning, washing, or cooking if you need it
  • Financial matters
  • Legal issues such as your will
  • If there is something you want to do or somewhere you would like to go. The palliative care team can help you with practical things such as a wheelchair, if you need it
  • Where you want to spend the final phase of your life: at home or in a hospice. If you want to be at home, the palliative care team will look into whether this is possible
  • If you would like to talk to somebody who can give you support, such as a psychologist or a spiritual advisor

The role of family and friends

As a family member or a close friend, you play an important role in palliative care. You can help with practical things such as cleaning, washing, or cooking. You may also support the palliative care team in caring for your partner, family member, or friend. Ask the palliative care team about the possibility of getting professional home care if you feel you need it.

If you feel you need somebody to talk to, approach the palliative care team, your family doctor or your spiritual advisor. The palliative care team can also point you to people who can help you deal with your feelings.

Patient organisations also offer support for family members or friends.