NCCN Guidelines for Patients® | Caring for Adolescents and Young Adults - page 41

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NCCN Guidelines for Patients
®
: Caring for Adolescents and Young Adults
Version 2013
Part 4: Navigating the treatment process
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End-of-life care
Sometimes cancer keeps progressing despite everyone’s best efforts.
When remission or cure is no longer possible, the next step is end-of-life care,
which is designed to keep patients comfortable and help make the most of the
time remaining.
Although it’s natural to want to avoid thinking about death, most cancer experts
recommend completing an advance directive of your preferences for end-of-life
care sooner rather than later. Doing this will give you one less thing to worry
about. An advance directive does not mean you have given up. However, it
ensures that your treatment team and your loved ones understand what you want.
This leaves you free to focus on your treatment and making the most of every
day. (More details on advance directives and dealing with end-of-life issues are
provided in Part 9,
Thinking About the Unthinkable
.)
Working with a treatment team
To get the highest level of care possible, it’s important to work with health care
providers who will not only care for your physical health, but also can help you
with the psychological, emotional, and social effects of dealing with cancer.
Hospitals and cancer centers with AYA oncology programs typically have a team
of specialists who can work with you to get the help you need. If you are being
treated at a facility that does not offer such comprehensive services, the following
information can be helpful for building your own team of professionals who can
help you during the treatment process.
Some members of your treatment team will be with you throughout the cancer
journey, while others will only be there for parts of it. Understanding who your
team members are and what they do will make it a lot easier to make the most of
each person’s skills and knowledge. Key players are likely to include:
Definitions
Chemotherapy:
Drugs
that kill all cells that grow
rapidly, including cancer
cells and normal cells
Immune therapy:
Treatment that uses the
immune system to fight
disease
Radiation therapy:
Use of
high-energy rays to destroy
cancer cells
Targeted therapy:
Drugs
that specifically target and
kill cancer cells
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