The word "Palliative" originated from the Latin word "Palliare", which means to cloak or to cover. This branch of medical science concentrates on pain relieving techniques in an integrated manner offered by a team of experts comprising mainly of doctors, nurses, counsellors and physiotherapists. Perhaps the largest group which qualifies for palliative care are terminally ill cancer patients.
Once a cancer is termed as "terminal", it means that, irrespective of medical care, life of the patient will eventually come to an end. At this juncture, it is advisable to concentrate on the quality of life, thereby reducing the pain and suffering associated with the illness. The philosophy of "palliative care" is to accept death as part of life and no steps are taken to prolong it. This philosophy paved way for a new branch of medical sciences known as "Palliative Care". Today end stage disease management and palliative care are specialized disciplines within medical practice.
An important aspect of "palliative care" is to address immediate concerns such as nausea, constipation, lack of appetite, depression etc through appropriate medication. These are the commonly occurring side effects of medical procedures such as chemotherapy, widely used in treating cancers.
A vital step during treatment is to offer spiritual and psychological counselling to provide solace, enabling the person to manage pain in a better manner.
By incorporating the above techniques, the quantum of human suffering can be reduced naturally.