One out of every four oncologists is willing to include palliative care services within their treatment protocols, according to a survey finding conducted online with 200 oncologists across India in early January 2021.
The Cipla Palliative Care & Training Centre Pune surveyed to understand how palliative care is perceived by oncologists and their thoughts on its early integration into oncotherapy. Oncologists across Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, West Bengal and other states participated in the survey.
While 28% of the oncologists believed that palliative care services should be provided at the time of diagnosis, 57% of them thought that palliative care includes comprehensive physical, social, and emotional care of patients and caregivers- and that it is not just management of physical pain, suggesting that most oncologists recognize that palliative care is a multidisciplinary approach to patient care.
During the survey, some of the major challenges in palliative care services highlighted by oncologists were lack of awareness amongst patients and caregivers about palliative care services and lack of trained personnel to provide palliative care services.
“There is enough data to establish early integration of palliative care into the treatment of advanced cancers. It’s the time we address the challenges associated with the lack of universal acceptance of palliative care,” said Dr Anil D’Cruz, current President of the Union of International Cancer Control, in a statement.
He added that oncologists must understand its benefits and include palliative care early in the treatment algorithm of advanced cancers. This requires a collaborative approach of education of healthcare professionals through upskilling as well as access and augmentation of palliative care facilities.
World Health Organization (WHO) defines palliative care as an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problems associated with a 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.
“When palliative care is introduced at an earlier stage, it has the potential to transform total health care. There is inadequate exposure to palliative care in oncology training and this needs to be addressed to ensure palliative care has better acceptance and its importance at early-stage integration is recognized,” said Rumana Hameid, Managing Trustee Cipla Foundation.