By Dr. Brian McDonoughSponsored By Independence Blue Cross

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The specialty of palliative care is growing for a number of reasons.

The biggest reason is that when people are faced with a condition like cancer or end-stage heart disease and traditional medical treatments may not be as effective, it is important that patients and patients’ families have the opportunity to look at options including less aggressive treatments.

The other reason it is popular is because there are a lot of costs and medicine in the last years of a patient’s life and many of the tests and procedures may not prove to be helpful.

According to a new report from the Journal of Oncology Practice, patients with advanced cancer having a palliative care expert on the case soon after diagnosis can significantly decrease the use of hospital services and allow caregivers to manage patients’ expectations and maintain their quality of life.

Researchers also found that for many patients, palliative care comes late in the illness with an average time of 12 days from the appearance of the palliative care expert until the time of death.

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