Palliative Care

What is Palliative Care?

“Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual” - World Health Organization

SunMed Supportive & Palliative Care Service

The SunMed Supportive & Palliative Care Service consists of a specialist-led team of doctors and nurses who have been professionally trained to care for palliative care patients. The service has been internationally recognized as a “Designated Centre of Integrated Oncology and Palliative Care” by the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) 2019-2021. It is also a member of the Asia Pacific Hospice Network (APHN) and is actively involved in education and scientific research, which had been published and featured in the acclaimed international medical journal of Palliative Medicine.*

*Ho JFV, Yaakup H, Low GSH, Wong SL, Tho LM, Tan SB. Morphine use for cancer pain: A strong analgesic used only at the end of life? A qualitative study on attitudes and perceptions of morphine in patients with advanced cancer and their caregivers. Palliat Med. 2020;34(5):619-629.

For cancer patients

Cancer can affect patients in a multitude of ways – biologically, physically and psychologically. Palliative care aims to improve quality of life by addressing the patients’ (and their families’) needs during this difficult time.

Individuals with cancer can have symptoms from the disease or side effects from the cancer treatments, such as pain, breathlessness, nausea, loss of appetite and fatigue. Most of these symptoms can be managed through careful assessment and an individualized and holistic plan of care from the palliative care team.

Palliative care can be provided alongside curative cancer treatments, and is not merely for individuals at the end of life. Often times, good management of symptoms enables the patients to continue with the necessary cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, to ensure optimal management of their disease.

The early involvement of the palliative care team in the management of patients with advanced cancers has also been shown to improve quality of life, reduce depression, enhance coping and even improve survival.

Palliative care and hospice

In Malaysia, the terms palliative care and hospice care are synonymous, with the aims of relieving suffering and improving quality of life. Generally, hospice care refers to palliative care services in the community that is provided by NGOs such as hospices. There is defined duration of palliative or hospice services, and services would be offered as long as there is a continued need, based on the patient’s illness trajectory.