Supportive Care And Its Importance For Cancer Patients

In most cases, cancer is treated with some combination of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. These days, some cancer is treated with immunotherapy. The purpose of these treatments is to get rid of the cancer cells. However, most patients who are diagnosed with cancer can also benefit from an additional type of treatment called support treatment or supportive treatment. Here's a closer look at what supportive cancer treatment is and how it helps patients.

What is supportive cancer treatment?

Supportive cancer treatments are those which do not directly get rid of cancer cells or cure cancer, but nonetheless, help patients get through their cancer. Some supportive therapies are aimed at the physical body, helping to keep it strong and reduce side effects from treatments like chemo and radiation. Others are focused on mental health; they help keep patients strong and determined in their fight against cancer.

What are some common supportive cancer treatments?

There are many, many different supportive cancer treatments. Some of the most common ones are:

  • Anti-nausea drugs: These help patients maintain their appetite through chemotherapy so they can continue to eat and keep their bodies nourished.
  • Dietary counseling: A dietitian can work with a patient to select foods that they find appealing and that provide adequate nutrition to allow their body to fight cancer.
  • Acupuncture: This eastern medical practice can help relieve pain and stress.
  • Mental health counseling: Working with a counselor can help keep a patient mentally focused and strong during this challenging time.

Where can patients seek supportive therapy?

Many cancer treatment centers offer supportive therapies right within their walls. In some programs, patients are automatically scheduled to see dietitians, counselors, and other professionals for supportive care. In other programs, they are simply given the option of seeing these professionals if they so choose.

Patients who receive cancer treatment at a smaller, regional hospital may not have direct access to supportive treatments. However, their doctor should be able to recommend professionals and nearby practices who are used to working with cancer patients.

It is a good idea to begin supportive treatments early — sometimes before you even begin your chemo or radiation. Getting into a routine with these care practices prior to treatment helps ensure you're ready to face treatment with a strong body and mind.

Cancer care is not just about getting rid of the cancer. It is also about supporting your mind and body in the fight — and that's exactly what supportive cancer treatment does. Reach out to a professional for more information about cancer support treatments.