Skip to main content Deutsch

Palliative Medicine in Oncology

Patient Information©Lightspring/

When a serious, advanced illness is no longer curable, it is not the end of all medical efforts. At this stage in a person's life, further treatment is needed to relieve physical and psychological suffering and to address social and spiritual problems.

Palliative medicine is concerned with these people and all their problems and tries to improve and maintain the quality of life of patients in a sometimes difficult situation during the course of their illness.

Its main task is not only to provide the best possible relief of physical discomfort, but also to stabilise the psychological constitution, to recognise the spiritual needs that arise in a situation of illness and, last but not least, to provide support in solving the social problems that almost all patients with serious incurable illnesses find themselves in.

In the early stages of cancer, the physical symptoms that lead to the diagnosis are usually mild and, thanks to modern medical treatments such as surgery, anti-tumour therapy or radiotherapy, they decrease considerably even after treatment has begun. During this phase, the side effects of treatment are usually more severe than the original symptoms, but are accepted and endured in the realistic hope of a cure or at least a significant delay in the progression of the disease. If this hope is not fulfilled, the symptoms and disabilities caused by the cancer increase and often lead to a dramatic deterioration in quality of life.

Palliative medicine no longer treats these complaints - for example, cancer-related pain - by continuing to try to shrink the tumour that is causing them, but, when this is no longer useful, by directly suppressing the symptoms caused by the disease - for example, with effective pain therapy.

As well as physical symptoms, illness often causes emotional, psychological and social pain. Treatment of psychological and psychosocial problems therefore plays an important role in this comprehensive view of "total health".

Palliative care for non-oncology conditions
There are many conditions that can cause severe symptoms. These include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pulmonary fibrosis, heart failure, kidney failure, neurological disease and other conditions that can cause distressing symptoms and affect quality of life. Our team and unit are available to provide palliative care - inpatient or outpatient, as required.