Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

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Palliative Care Services

Palliative care is interdisciplinary care that aims to relieve suffering and improve the quality of life for patients with a life-threatening illness, and their families, by focusing on the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the patient. Unlike hospice care, which is geared to terminally ill patients who have less than six months to live and for whom life-prolonging treatments are no longer effective, palliative care can be appropriate at any stage of illness, for any diagnosis. It is provided concurrently with other medical treatments.

How can palliative care help me or my family member?

Palliative Care Services can provide help with the following:

  • Symptom management (pain, anxiety, depression, shortness of breath, agitation, nausea, constipation, insomnia)
  • Complex decision-making (illness management, treatment course, goals of care)
  • Advance care planning (decisions regarding life-sustaining and life-extending measures, planning for crisis events, preparing for end-of-life decisions)
  • Supporting patients and families through effective communication, providing an empathic presence, and fostering hope

If you think that you or your family member could benefit from any of these services, ask your physician to request a palliative care consultation.

Is palliative care the same as hospice care?

No. Palliative care is not an alternative to curative treatment and it is not hospice. Some key differences:

  • Palliative care is hospital-based, not home-based.
  • Patients can receive palliative care at any stage of any illness.
  • Patients do not forgo curative treatments for palliative care. They can continue to receive other medical treatments at the same time.
  • Patients can benefit from palliative care before, during, and after curative or life-prolonging care.

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