Cancer patients want more palliative care

BOSTON (WWLP) – Treating cancer takes a damaging toll on a person’s body. 22 News spoke with cancer patients and survivors who say they need better access to care services.

Cancer treatments, like chemotherapy, can be a traumatic experience, and they can also cause painful side effects. Patients say improving palliative care will lessen the blow brought on by cancer.

More than 38,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer in Massachusetts this year. While treatment options are improving, access to care that targets the physical and emotional pain is limited.

“Where we’re lacking is treating the symptoms of that treating the cancer. There’s side effects, there’s nausea, there’s nutritional deficits,” said Marc Hymovitz of the American Cancer Society.

The American Cancer Society, cancer patients, survivors and state lawmakers are backing a bill that would improve palliative care services. Palliative care is specialized medical care that focuses on relieving pain, stress and other symptoms caused by serious illnesses.

“All of these big diseases are very traumatic to people. We want to be able to make sure that they survive the cure as well as well as survive the disease,” said Representative Chris Walsh who is sponsoring the bill.

The bill would create a council that would identify patients that need palliative care and connect them with quality services such as: massages and counseling. Increasing access to these services is not only cost effective; it’s proven beneficial to patients.

“Patients who are going through palliative care tend to cost less; they have shorter stays in hospitals, and they just feel better. What’s wrong with helping someone going through difficult times feel better,” said Ellen Croibier, and American Cancer Society volunteer.

92% of people say more palliative care services should be made available in hospitals. The bill is currently being debated by the Committee of Health Care Finance.

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