The University Health Network has found that having early palliative care has had a tremendous impact, not only on patients and families, but on the culture of care in the hospital. The focus is on timely, patient and family-focused care, as well as on collaboration between the medical, radiation, and surgical oncologists and the palliative care team. Rather than taking over care at the end of life, the palliative care team is involved throughout the course of illness. It is able to provide input into symptom management, complex psycho-social issues, and can help with advance planning for care that will be required in the future. The palliative care team becomes an active collaborator in the patient’s care throughout the physically and emotionally challenging process of receiving palliative chemotherapy, and is able to provide further treatment when tumor-directed care is no longer possible.
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