Cancer supportive care improves quality of life and symptom management


Cancer supportive care improves quality of life and symptom management

Cancer supportive care uses evidence-informed modalities to prevent and manage the side effects of cancer treatment. It’s not meant to directly treat cancer. Instead, the approach is designed to support patients during conventional treatment. Its goal is to address the physical, psychosocial and spiritual needs of patients throughout treatment to improve their quality of life. Therapies may include nutritional support, pain management, behavioral health services and oncology rehabilitation. Anyone on the continuum of cancer—from early stages to survivorship—may benefit from supportive care.

Supportive care also includes palliative care or comfort care. However, patients often misinterpret these terms. When they hear “palliative care” or “comfort care,” some people mistakenly believe they are synonymous with end-of-life care or are only meant for those with advanced cancer. Some patients believe that supportive care is used in lieu of conventional cancer treatment. These misconceptions often keep people from seeking and using beneficial resources designed to prevent and manage side effects of cancer treatment.

At Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), we refer to our supportive care services as integrative care because that term more accurately represents how we use evidence-informed therapies to help manage side effects in conjunction with conventional cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.

Integrative supportive care is typically interdisciplinary. For example, if you’re experiencing pain during treatment, your provider may prescribe medication or nerve-block therapy. At the same time, behavioral therapy, such as guided imagery and breathing and relaxation techniques, may be used to help reduce the amount of pain medication you need. Stretching and strength exercises available through oncology rehabilitation may also help target the source of the pain.