Breast Cancer & End-of-Life Concerns
Despite many advances in treatment for breast cancer, there may come a time when patients with metastatic breast cancer begin to consider hospice care.
It may happen because curative treatment is no longer available. Or the patient may decide to end curative treatments on their own.
Metastatic Breast Cancer Goals of Care
When deciding to make a change to treatment, it is important to discuss your options with your oncologist. When treatment alternatives are presented, patients need to be on the same page as their physician about quality of life and goals of care. Some questions to ask include:
- Is the goal of continued radiation or chemotherapy curative or is it only meant to extend life by a few weeks or months?
- What are the expected side effects of that treatment?
- What can be done to reduce those side effects?
If a patient determines that the side effects of the treatment available are not worth the cost to their quality of life, they may decide to discontinue this treatment. This does not mean the patient is “giving up” or that there are no treatments available to them. It means that they are choosing to focus on their quality of life and supporting that choice with the whole-patient support of hospice care.
How Hospice Care Supports Patients with Metastatic Breast Cancer
Hospice provides a team of end-of-life professionals to support patients who need end-of-life breast cancer care. Nurses and hospice aides provide physical and personal care, focusing on pain and symptom management. Social workers provide emotional support and can assist with family discussions and end-of-life planning. Chaplains provide spiritual support. Volunteers are also available to provide companionship to patients while offering family caregivers the chance to take a break or run errands. They all meet every two weeks with the hospice medical director to discuss changes and make updates to the patient's plan of care.
This care is provided wherever the patient calls home. This can be their personal residence, a family member’s home, a nursing home, or an assisted living facility. All medication, medical equipment, and medical supplies related to the patient’s hospice diagnosis are provided at no cost to the patient and their family.
The goal of hospice care is to provide end-of-life breast cancer patients with the highest possible quality of life so they can continue to have meaningful moments with the people they love.
Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care provides support to patients facing breast cancer. Our palliative care program provides treatment for side effects. Our hospice care program provides a higher level of support for patients with breast cancer approaching end of life. To learn more about our cancer hospice treatment, please call us at 1-888-564-3405.
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