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Like cancer screening, cancer diagnosis and cancer treatment, Palliative Care Service is an important and integral part of a comprehensive cancer programme. We talk to Dr Kok Jaan Yang, Senior Consultant, Palliative Medicine at Parkway Cancer Centre to understand why this is so, and the kind of Palliative Care Services that are available for patients with cancer.
Most renowned cancer centres in the world should have a Specialist Palliative Care Service. In 2008, Parkway Cancer Centre made the historical milestone of being the first private cancer centre to start Specialist Palliative Care Service in Singapore.
In Singapore and most countries, the term ‘Palliative Care’ and ‘Hospice Care” are often used interchangeably and mean the same thing.
But what is palliative care? The world modern palliative hospice care movement started in the late 1960s to address the unmet needs of dying patients. So for most early hospice/palliative care services, such as community-based hospice home care services or inpatient hospice services, the focus was indeed on End-of-Life Care, which is the comfort care of dying patients who have a prognosis of a few months.
However, the movement has evolved in the last 20–30 years with the establishment of the Specialty of Palliative Medicine in many developed countries including Singapore. More hospital-based Specialist Palliative Care Services are now doing much more than End-of-Life care. For example, the Specialist Palliative Care Service is being introduced earlier even when patients are receiving anti-cancer treatment with the aim to improve quality of life of the cancer patients by preventing and reducing unnecessary suffering when possible.
The philosophy of Parkway Cancer Centre is always a multi-disciplinary team approach to provide better care for our patients. The Palliative Care Service works hand in hand with our Parkway Cancer Centre Oncologists to support patients treated in the centre. The main types of services we provide are:
Your primary oncologist is still the main person to coordinate your cancer care. Talk to your primary Oncologist if there is a need to refer to Palliative Care Services.
Whether as part of the Palliative Care Service or part of Parkway Cancer Centre, we always emphasize the importance of working as a team to provide the best care for our patients. Each of the Parkway Cancer staff, be it the doctors, nurses, receptionists, dieticians, counsellors, all play an equally important role. There is no part that is too small or insignificant; everyone makes a difference to the care of our patients.
With the advances in cancer treatment, I hope to see more cancers controlled and cured. And more patients living longer with less suffering.
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