What is supportive care?

As you know, ABC is a coalition South Africa’s most active breast cancer organisations. There is a list of all our members here.) Each of our member organisations is actively involved in supporting people with breast cancer, so it may seem a bit strange that one of the things that we are calling for is Supportive Care. So aren’t we providing support already then?

There will always be a role for organisations like ours that support people with breast cancer and the people who love and care for them – but when we talk about supportive care, we are wanting even more.

Supportive Care - Breast Cancer

The goal of supportive care is to prevent or treat as early as possible the symptoms of a disease, side effects caused by treatment of a disease, and psychological, social, and spiritual problems related to a disease or its treatment.


It is an umbrella term for all services that may be needed to support people with any cancer, including breast cancer. It begins at diagnosis and includes:

  • self-help and support,
  • information,
  • psychological support,
  • control of physical symptoms (such as nausea and pain)
  • social support,
  • rehabilitation,
  • spiritual support,
  • palliative care and
  • bereavement care

Supportive Care helps with physical needs like pain and fatigue. It is there for social needs, such as practical aids and support for the carer. It can help to address the feelings of hopelessness and despair that people living with breast cancer often feel. Supportive care helps people to become actively involved in their own care and rehabilitation and builds hope and tenacity as they manage the cancer trajectory of care.

In tomorrow’s blog, we are going to look at how we believe a system of supportive care should work.



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