9 November 2017

Nigeria: Improving Cancer Symptom Management With Palliative Care

With investigations revealing that millions of cancer patients suffer severe symptoms at the last years of life, experts in cancer care have called for palliative end of life care to improve life of the dying patient.

According to studies, patients with end stage cancer suffer from various symptoms during that last months of life such as fatigue, weakness, pain, shortness of breath, cough among others which could be severe thereby impairing their quality of life, hence, the need for improved symptom management by healthcare professionals.

Speaking at a training workshop for 100 nurses and doctors in both private and public health institutions in cancer and palliative care organised by the Bricon Foundation in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support, United Kingdom (UK), the Co-founder, Bricon Foundation, Abigail Simon-Hart said, with the rise of news cancer cases diagnosed yearly in Nigeria, there is need for symptom management to improve care of dying patients, which is inevitable.

She said, late presentation and misdiagnosis of cancer have increased the death of patients, adding that cultural background and differences have led to the worse stage of the disease, which could lead to death.

Abigail maintained that the cancer patients suffer from severe symptoms at the end of life, which emotional affects their family members or close ones, and has remained a significant problem, as inadequacies in symptom management have impaired efforts to improve care of the dying patients.

According to her, investigations carried out on the bereaved family members of the cancer patients revealed that the deceased patients suffer severe symptoms, increased pains during their last three months of life, which calls for increased intervention in palliative care to increase quality of life at the end of life.

The Ambassador of Macmillan Cancer Support, UK, Sarah Cost stressed that palliative end of life care have become significant to enable the cancer patients die with "dignity and peace" which is inevitable, with their loved ones and family members feeling relived, without carrying the emotional burden of the death circumstance.

She explained that palliative care in most cases could help the patients over come the disease, as some could live a longer life, with the survival dependent on their mental strength to fight the disease.

Sarah added that the inadequacy in symptom management, prompted the need for the training workshop for healthcare workers, who oversee the cancer patients at the early and last stage of life.

Commending the workshop, the Lagos State commissioner for Health, Dr. hide Idris, who was represented by the state Cancer Control Coordinator, Mrs. Abosede Wellington said, palliative care was lacking in the health curriculum, which should be urgently addressed.

"End of life and palliative care for terminal diseases is one area we need to address in our health system, this helps patients who have been diagnosed and are in their end stage to feel relieved. It also helps their loved ones emotionally, knowing that their relative who is dying of cancer will die with ease," he added.

He, however, said the palliative if implemented would increase life expectancy as well as reduce the burden of cancer in the state.

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