chapter  21
Palliative care for head and neck cancer
ByCatriona R. Mayland, John E. Ellershaw
Pages 8

THE ROLE AND CHALLENGES IN PROVIDING PALLIATIVE CARE TO HEAD AND NECK CANCER PATIENTS Head and neck cancer accounts for around 8000 cases per year in England and Wales and up to half of all these patients will die from their illness and will require palliative support.1 The World Health Organisation (WHO) denes palliative care as being the ‘total active care of patients whose disease is not responsive to curative treatment’.2 The fundamental principle of palliative care is that it should ‘offer a support system to help patients live as actively as possible until death and....help the family cope during the patient’s illness and in their own bereavement’.3 The care should be both patient-focused and familycentred and encompass physical, psychological, social and spiritual aspects of care.