As someone who has cancer or a loved suffering from this disease, you may be having a difficult time coordinating hospice care or understanding all of your options. Along with the term chemotherapy, you may be hearing words like curative, palliative care, and end of life care. What does each of these mean? How do they define the type of treatment you or your loved one receives? And can you get chemotherapy while in hospice?
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Understanding the Progression of Cancer
Curative care is when your medical team treats cancer with the intention of curing it. You’ll typically receive this type of care when first diagnosed with cancer. During curative care, chemotherapy is the front line of defense. This aggressive medication attempts to kill the cancer cells and push your body into remission.
When your cancer is incurable, and remission is not an option, you enter palliative care. During palliative care the medical team still uses chemotherapy to keep cancer from spreading, minimize pain, and increase the quality of life. Chemotherapy promotes regression (shrinking cancer cells) when there is no chance or remission or prevents them from spreading and growing. Using chemo during palliative care is about extending your life with cancer.
Receiving Chemotherapy While In Hospice Care
Once cancer has progressed past the point of remission, even with treatment, you enter into hospice care. Your hospice team will work with your doctors to create and manage your end of life palliative treatment plan. Everyday worries or fears when entering hospice include receiving lackluster treatment, possibly dying sooner, or ending up in a strange hospital bed with only the company of other dying patients.
It doesn’t have to be scary and is not a subpar means of treatment. While there are hospice centers, most often you can remain in your home.
The goal of hospice is to provide you with a dignified care plan and keep you comfortable as you live out your remaining time. You have a full say in your hospice care plan. It can include medication management, nutrition help, physical therapy and massage, counseling, and therapy, and also support for grieving loved ones.
Is Chemotherapy An Approved Hospice Care Treatment?
In most cases, chemotherapy is not used as a treatment during hospice care, and insurance won’t cover it. This is because chemotherapy is considered curative care. It is also an aggressive treatment that can ravage any remaining healthy cells in your body. Chemotherapy comes with a host of side effects from drowsiness to nausea and vomiting which can impede the goal of hospice care—keeping you comfortable.
However, there is an exception to this general rule.
If your team of doctors determine that chemotherapy is needed to alleviate pain and other symptoms from your terminal illness, insurance may cover it. You then will receive chemo as part of your plan while in hospice.
Knowing you or a loved one is at the end of life comes with many worries. It is important to always discuss treatment options and concerns with your doctors and medical staff before making any decisions. If you are considering end-of-life care, feel free to contact us today to discuss our services aimed at improving your loved one’s quality of life.