Published on July 16, 2018
Many cancer patients look for ways to address their needs, from physical body pains and symptom management to spiritual and emotional distress. What does supportive care offer? Expert Dr. Ishwaria Subbiah, from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, explains what falls under the realm of supportive and palliative care and where mind-body medicine comes into play. Dr. Subbiah also shares the tools available to assist patients on their journey with cancer and the treatment approaches focused on relieving the burden of the disease and improving quality of life. Watch now to learn more.
This is a Patient Empowerment Network program produced by Patient Power. We thank Celgene Corporation, Genentech, Helsinn and Novartis for their support.
Transcript | Understanding Supportive Care: Terms and Resources to Know
Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.
Dr. Subbiah, let's have some terms that we understand as we begin. So, first of all, your palliative care, you've explained this to us in other programs, it's not about necessarily you're near death. It's about helping support you on your cancer journey. Supportive care, what does that mean? Mind-body medicine, what does that mean? So maybe you can define some of this for us today so we all have a common lexicon, if you will.
Absolutely. And so when you hear the terms "palliative care" most people, the first thing they think of is hospice care. So something that, a service that's engaged towards the end of life. But the reality is that palliative care is symptom management. It's been taking care of that whole person and the people around them who matter to them as they go through the treatment for cancer.
So palliative care, we're involved more and more, really from the time of diagnosis because most people feel the burden of this diagnosis, sometimes even before because you know that something is wrong leading up to the diagnosis for many people. And so a bulk of my practice is taking care of a person as they go through cancer treatment. So we refer to that as supportive care. We're supporting you through the treatment.
So things that may come up, cancer pain, nausea, trouble breathing, depression, anxiety, distress, spiritual distress, spiritual pain. So there are many elements that go with this diagnosis of cancer. So our multidisciplinary team helps with managing that in the supportive care realm.
Palliative--supportive care falls under palliative care, and so there is a component that is closer towards the end of life where the--your body is going through the changes that are very natural. And we want to make sure that the suffering that you're afraid of or somebody who cares about you is afraid of, we can minimize that to a great extent. The pain of that moment of life may not change, but the suffering that we associate with our passing from any reason doesn't have to be there with the engagement of a palliative care physician.
Okay. I want to get to mind-body connection. So this has been a debate in the medical profession for years, both for you and maybe your care partner. So do we have like some control with the way we live our life or think about things that affect cancer?
So mind-body, there are many schools of thought on what it is, but if you put all the academic aside the meaning comes down to exactly what's words are. Your mind is very closely related to your body, and your body function is very closely related to your mind.
So what it means for us in the realm of cancer care either as a provider or as a patient is there is a component of everything that you're feeling that can potentially be modified by mindful practices. It may not change it altogether, it may not make it go away altogether, but there's a component of symptom management that is beyond medications, that's beyond a pill that involves practices that are what fall under the realm of mind-body practice. And so some of these are ones you're heard of, acupuncture, massage therapy, guided imagery, music therapy and certainly yoga as well.