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Published on October 21, 2020

Palliative Care Doesn’t Mean the End of Life

A program at Cone Health connects specialists and cancer patients for a better life.

Cancer takes its toll. The treatments can be tough and the disease painful. However, a new program at Cone Health Cancer Center at Wesley Long Hospital is bringing palliative care specialists into the center to work with patients. The goal is not necessarily to plan for the end of life, but to plan on leading a better life.Cancer Center at Wesley Long Hospital

“There is strong accumulating evidence that palliative care in cancer patients leads to better symptom management, improved patient and caregiver quality of life, longer lives and reduced health care costs,” says Elizabeth Golding, DO, medical director, Cone Health Palliative Care Services. “It is not just about hospice and end-of-life care.”

Palliative care specialists will be embedded at the cancer center. They will meet with patients and families about how they are managing symptoms and dealing with the stress of helping to care for a loved one who has cancer.

B.J. Sintay, PhD, executive director of radiation oncology and chief physicist, Cone Health, says cancer patients frequently receive palliative care, but often meet with specialists at a crisis point. “Palliative care has the potential to help improve quality of life and ease suffering when it is introduced to patients with serious, complex illnesses much earlier,” says Sintay. “By having palliative care specialists working alongside radiation oncologists, we can increase the benefits to patients.”

The palliative care specialist will work in the cancer center. They will meet with patients and families and talk about goals, symptom management and the many aspects of life that are outside of cancer treatment.

“In oncology, when we look at treating and staging cancer, we are not always looking at all the elements and what else is happening in patients’ lives. Through this partnership, we are treating the whole patient.” Matt Manning, MD, medical director, Cone Health Cancer Center.