April 24, 2018

Palliative care explained

Claire Mulvihill, Lung Foundation Australia, Lung Cancer Support Nurse

Often when people hear the term ‘palliative care’, their first thought is end-of-life care, yet they are still active and independent, so why would they need this type of care? Palliative care isn’t just about end-of-life care. Palliative care enables you to live your life to the best of your ability by identifying physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs. It is offered to people of any age who are living with a serious illness that cannot be cured, such as lung cancer, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) or Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF).

Palliative care is encouraged early in your disease diagnosis and journey to improve your quality of life by managing symptoms, helping with communication, assisting in navigating the numerous decisions that can evolve when faced with a life-limiting illness, and providing family support. It is offered in a number of settings including within your own home, aged care facility, hospital or a hospice and can be introduced whilst receiving active treatment as well as working alongside your primary treating team.

Research has shown that people with advanced lung cancer who access palliative care early had significant benefits1. It showed that their quality of life and mood improved, and on average that they lived longer than those not receiving palliative care1. As there are advances in treatments available and the management of chronic illnesses, we are also seeing the advances in palliative care.
To find out more about palliative care, talk to your health professional. For further information, please contact our freecall Information and Support Line or Lung Cancer Support Nurse via 1800 654 301.


  1. Jennifer S. Temel, M.D, etal, N Engl J Med 2010; 363:733-742