Understanding palliative care | Sarcoma UK
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Understanding palliative care

Palliative care aims to improve the quality of life of anyone facing problems associated with advanced, progressive or life-limiting illnesses.

Palliative care may be offered at any stage during your sarcoma treatment. But, it is particularly important if your sarcoma is not responding to treatment, because it can help you to live longer and to live comfortably – even if your sarcoma cannot be cured.

What is palliative care?

Palliative care is a holistic approach to your care which includes managing and treating symptoms, providing emotional and practical support, along with physical and occupational therapy to enhance your quality of life.

This holistic approach also means you can be supported with palliative care at the same time as receiving other treatments for your illness such as radiotherapy or chemotherapy.

Your palliative care team should be able to assist with:

  • Symptom and pain management
  • Psychological and emotional support for you and your family
  • Practical support, including financial issues and planning for the future
  • End of life care and bereavement support


When will I have palliative care?

You may be offered palliative care at any stage in your sarcoma diagnosis to help ease any symptoms you may be experiencing. However, palliative care is usually given when you are given a terminal diagnosis, to make sure you are as comfortable as possible.

It’s worth pointing out that palliative care and end of life care are not the same thing. Receiving palliative care does not necessarily mean you are going to die soon. Some people receive palliative care for years.

Palliative care also doesn’t necessarily mean the end of active treatment. It is possible to undergo palliative care alongside other treatments for specific conditions. For instance, if you are undergoing treatment for cancer, you can also receive palliative care alongside it. It is not mandatory to cease active treatment for specific conditions while receiving palliative care, although the option is available to you.


Where will I have palliative care?

You may be able to have palliative care in a number of different places. Your team should try to organise for you to receive care wherever you have wished for.

Depending on what is available in your area, you may be able to receive palliative care in:

  • your home
  • in a hospice
  • in a care home
  • in hospital

You can read more about hospice care at Hospice UK.


How do I get palliative care?

Most of the time, you will need a referral to access palliative care.

You can get a referral by speaking to either:

  • your GP
  • your hospital nurse
  • your district nurse (if you have one)
  • any other healthcare professional.

You may also sometimes be able to refer yourself to the palliative care team, depending on where you live. If you can self-refer, the team will need to assess your situation and speak to your GP or healthcare team before organising palliative care for you.


Published: May 2023 Next review due: May 2026


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