Health Library Explorer
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z A-Z Listings Contact Us

Palliative Care for People with Cancer

What is palliative care?

Palliative care is care that makes people with a serious illness as comfortable as possible. It also prevents and relieves suffering. And although it is often thought of as part of end-of-life care, it can be part of the care given to people in any stage of their disease. It's different than hospice care. Palliative care allows for medical therapies but focuses on:

  • Comfort and improving quality of life

  • Reaching the best possible function (for instance, daily activities, physical activity, self-care)

  • Helping with making decisions about end-of-life care

  • Providing emotional support to patients and their families

Talk with your healthcare provider or local hospital to see if palliative care is available in your area. Check with your health plan to see if this type of care is covered.

How is palliative care different from hospice care?

Palliative care can be given at any point during a serious illness, from diagnosis to end of life. Hospice care is only available to people near the end of life. You can receive palliative care while you are getting other treatments, including chemotherapy and radiation. Hospice care is provided when no other active or curative treatments are being used.

Both palliative and hospice care help people with serious illness by:

  • Improving quality of life

  • Reducing symptoms

  • Caring for a person's physical, social, emotional, and spiritual needs

What are palliative care services?

Either in the home, hospital, or a specialized setting, the services most palliative care providers can offer are extensive. The following are some of the services offered:

  • Psychosocial support and intervention to help the patient and family members

  • Equipment for delivery of medicines, nutrition, oxygen, and suction

  • Equipment, including special beds, toilets, chairs, wheelchairs, and bath needs

  • Skilled nursing care, healthcare providers, pharmacists, and other specialists

  • Medicine and nutrition support

  • Spiritual, religious, and cultural needs or requests

  • Special services for siblings or children (such as support groups)

  • Respite care, allowing the family to rest

  • Bereavement care

Who provides palliative care?

A palliative care team may include:

  • Healthcare providers

  • Pharmacists

  • Physical therapists

  • Occupational therapists

  • Social workers

  • Chaplains

  • Counselors

  • Dieticians

What are the benefits of palliative care?

Studies show that people who get palliative care have better quality of life and less pain, shortness of breath, depression, and nausea. Palliative care may help reduce:

  • Emergency room visits

  • Time in the intensive care unit

  • Chances of being readmitted to the hospital

Studies also show that people in palliative care have better emotional health.

How do I access palliative care?

If you are interested in palliative care, talk to your healthcare provider. They may be able to refer you to a program.

Online Medical Reviewer: Jessica Gotwals RN BSN MPH
Online Medical Reviewer: Sabrina Felson MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Todd Gersten MD
Date Last Reviewed: 7/1/2023
© 2000-2024 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
Contact Our Health Professionals
Follow Us
About StayWell
  • More information
  • (740) 356-5000