An important part of cancer care at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center is addressing the needs of the patient as a whole person. Beyond the best medical interventions, this often means addressing the emotional, spiritual, intellectual and social needs of patients and their loved ones.

Patients undergoing cancer treatment at UMGCCC have access to our dedicated team of palliative care specialists. These specially trained professionals are available to assist the medical team in meeting the complex needs of seriously ill patients and their families. Expert control of pain and symptoms and practical support for patient and family is integrated into every stage of illness, along with all other appropriate medical treatments. The goal of palliative care is comfort, and it can take many forms.

Palliative Care vs. Hospice Care

Palliative care and hospice are often confused. They are related, but are not the same. Here are some of the differences:


  • Palliative care is for patients and families dealing with serious illness and treatment effects regardless of diagnosis.
  • Hospice care is a type of palliative care for patients and families with life-limiting illness offered during the last months of life.


  • Palliative care helps support patients and families to improve their quality of life while experiencing illness and treatments.
  • Hospice care helps support patients and families to improve their quality of life even as they approach end of life.


  • Palliative care is available at any time for those experiencing serious illness and treatments.
  • Hospice care is especially for those with illness progressed toward end of life.


  • Palliative care is added to usual care at hospitals where patients and families receive care for serious illness.
  • Hospice care is available for patients and families as a Medicare benefit. Most hospice care can be provided in the home, or in hospice and other care facilities, with different levels of care corresponding to patient and family need.