An estimated 1 million new cases of cancer occur each year in India, with over 80% presenting at the point at which the disease is incurable. Around 60% of the patients will already be in significant pain, and just under half will be experiencing excruciating, unbearable pain. With only a handful of outpatient palliative care clinics in Kolkata, few patients are able to access essential pain medication and palliative care services. This narrative includes five case studies exploring differing aspects of palliative care: pain management, the difficulties faced in accessing morphine, the importance of compassion in end-of-life care, and the psychological effects on families. They illustrate the degree of suffering some patients and families face, and the relatively simple measures that can be taken to alleviate this. For the current situation in India to improve, there needs to be better access to essential pain medications such as morphine, education of health care professionals and the public, as well as the implementation of government pain management and palliative care policies.




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