Supportive care, also known as palliative care, aims to improve  quality of life by managing symptoms like pain, fatigue, nausea, and the side effects of cancer treatments. Palliative care can be beneficial at any stage of cancer, especially when the cancer is still active. You can access it in various settings, including home, hospital, residential aged care or hospice. Care is tailored to your care needs, support networks and available local services.

Do I need palliative care?

Cancer Australia’s ‘Optimal care pathway for people with pancreatic cancer’ recommends specialist palliative care for all patients living with pancreatic cancer. Palliative care should be addressed and offered early because early referral to palliative care can improve quality of life.

How do I access palliative care?

To access palliative care, please discuss the need for a referral with your general practitioner (GP), a medical specialist, or another health professional such as a pancreatic nurse. Initiating palliative care early in the process can significantly reduce stress for both you and your family as it will allow time to manage physical symptoms like pain or nausea effectively and address emotional, social, cultural, and spiritual needs.

Can I still have treatment?

You can continue to receive active cancer treatments even while under palliative care. The goal of cancer treatment during palliative care is to control cancer growth and alleviate symptoms to improve quality of life. The palliative care team collaborates closely with cancer specialists to manage any treatment side effects effectively. Treatments such as radiation therapy, drug therapies and surgery can be integral components of palliative care.

How long will I need palliative care?

The duration of palliative care depends on your individual circumstances and is decided in consultation with your palliative care team. The care is personalised and flexible, with the team regularly evaluating and adjusting the care plan according to your needs.  

Do I have to pay for palliative care?

Palliative care costs are partly covered by the public health system, though some out-of-pocket expenses may apply for medications, equipment or private health services. Additional support and information are available through palliative care organisations, the Cancer Council, community services and government assistance programs.