Palliative care focuses on improving the overall quality of life for people facing cancer or another serious illness.

It can occur at the same time as all other care and does not depend upon the patient's prognosis.

The goal of palliative care is comfort, from which all patients and their families may benefit.

Palliative care doesn't take the place of aggressive treatment; it addresses the physical, intellectual, emotional, social and spiritual needs of the patient and his or her loved ones.

What patients and their families can expect from palliative care:

  • Relief from symptoms including pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, constipation, nausea, loss of appetite and difficulty sleeping
  • Improved ability to tolerate medical treatments
  • Improved quality of life for patients and their families
  • Better understanding of the patient's condition and choices for medical care
  • Strength to better manage daily life

Learn more about the Kaufman Cancer Center's outpatient palliative care program that focuses on proactive, compassionate care for our cancer patients.

Palliative Care vs. Hospice Care

Palliative care is closely associated with hospice care, but it is not always for people who are terminally ill. Both palliative and hospice care share goals of providing comfort and pain relief and focusing on quality of life, but the differences are:

Palliative Care:

  • Focus is on pain and symptom management
  • Patient does not have to be terminal
  • Individual may still be seeking aggressive treatment


  • Focus is on pain and symptoms management
  • Patient has a terminal diagnosis with life expectancy of less than six months
  • Individual is not seeking curative treatment

Most insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, cover palliative care services.