What is Palliative Care?

Many still believe that Palliative Care is something that one goes through when there is no cure and no further treatment available for their illness. But in reality, Palliative Care is given to any patient at any stage of their disease. Palliative care addresses the person as a whole, not just their disease.

Palliative care is given to enhance quality of life of patients, and may be provided at any point along the cancer care continuum, from diagnosis to the end of life. We are equipped with distinct training and skills in pain control and management of other symptoms, to provide the best care for patients who are undergoing cancer treatment such as surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and up until such treatments are no longer beneficial.

The palliative care team works along with your oncology care team to manage your care and uphold the best possible quality of life for you.

What Issues are Addressed in Palliative Care?

We at Beacon Hospital understand that effects of cancer go beyond just physical effects, and experiences may be very different from person-to-person. Palliative care can tackle a wide range of issues, integrating an individual’s specific needs into care. The following issues will be taken into account for each patient:


Common physical symptoms include pain, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, and insomnia.

Emotional and Coping

We provide resources to help patients and families deal with the emotions that come with a cancer diagnosis and cancer treatment. Depression, anxiety, and fear are a few of the concerns that can be addressed through palliative care.


An expert in palliative care can help people explore their beliefs and values so that they can find a sense of peace or reach a point of acceptance that is appropriate for their situation.

Caregiver Needs

Family members are an important part of cancer care. It’s common for caregivers to feel stress, caring for a sick relative and dealing with all the extra responsibilities placed upon them such as work, household duties, and caring for other family members. Palliative care can help families and friends cope and give them the support they need.

Practical Needs

We assist with financial and legal worries, insurance questions, and employment concerns. Discussing the goals of care is also a vital factor of palliative care. This includes discussing about advance directives and enabling communication among family member, caregivers, and members of the oncology care team.

Who would benefit from palliative care?

Anyone who has an incurable life limiting condition would benefit from palliative care, for example, cancer, kidney failure, heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or other lung diseases, brain diseases such as stroke, ALS, or Parkinson’s, neurological conditions such as Multiple sclerosis (MS), Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Patients could assess palliative care regardless of their age, culture, background or beliefs.

Palliative care is not just for those who are dying

Many still believe that palliative care is only for people who are terminally ill and when there is no further treatment available for their conditions. But in truth, palliative care can be given to any patient at any stage of their disease trajectory. Receiving palliative care doesn’t mean that patients are discontinuing any active treatment or given up hope. Patients could receive palliative care alongside active treatment.

In patients with cancer, at any point throughout their cancer journey, palliative care could address pain or any other symptoms that are caused by the cancer or side effects of chemotherapy or radiotherapy. It also helps support patients and their family through their treatment and help them to have a better understanding of their condition and treatment.

A recent research has shown that in metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer, early integration of palliative care alongside oncology treatment led to significant improvements in both quality of life and mood of patients.

Temel J.S. (2010) Early Palliative Care for Patients with Metastatic Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer. The New England Journal of Medicine. 363:733-742.

Palliative Care Service by Dr Koon Sim Lan, Consultant Palliative Medicine

Pain Management by Dr Felicia Chang, Our Palliative Medical Officer

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