Experts believe that there is a need to break the mindset of palliative care as end-of-life care for cancer patients and to overcome challenges with the use of opioids for pain relief.
“There is inadequate exposure to palliative care in oncology training and there are only a handful of people who have MDs in palliative care.
The leadership at cancer centres in India needs to take responsibility for early integration,” said Dr CS Pramesh, director, Tata Memorial Hospital and Convener, National Cancer Grid. He was speaking at a virtual roundtable meeting on early integration of palliative care, organised by the Cipla Palliative Care and Training Centre, Pune on Thursday.
In line with the theme “Together, all our actions matter” of World Cancer Day on February 4, a diverse group of oncologists, palliative care experts and leaders were part of the panel to discuss the role of palliative care in improving quality of life of cancer patients and their families.
According to the World Cancer Report 2018, only 4 per cent of cancer patients in India get access to pain relief. A majority of cancer patients end up living with physical and emotional distress, which can ideally be addressed through holistic multidisciplinary palliative care, as per the report. Access to early palliative care remains lacking in India due to misconceptions around it being seen as only end-of-life care by both doctors and patients.