What is palliative treatment and when should it be used? | Cancer Research UK
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What is palliative treatment and when should it be used?

Palliative treatment is designed to relieve symptoms, and improve your quality of life. It can be used at any stage of an illness if there are troubling symptoms, such as pain or sickness. Palliative treatment can also mean using medicines to reduce or control the side effects of cancer treatments. In advanced cancer, palliative treatment may help someone to live longer and to live comfortably, even if they cannot be cured.

Palliative treatment is not limited to painkillers and anti sickness drugs. Cancer treatments can also reduce or get rid of symptoms. For example, cancer treatment may help to reduce pain by shrinking a tumour and reducing pressure on nerves or surrounding tissues. Treatment used in this way include

You may have some side effects from palliative cancer treatments. But the aim is to make you feel better, so your cancer specialist will try to choose treatments that have as few side effects as possible.

We have information on ways to cope physically with cancer and information about managing your symptoms in the last few weeks or months of life.

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Updated: 15 December 2014