Palliative Care

Improves quality of life for the patient, regardless of cancer stage or diagnosis.

The focus of palliative care is to improve the quality of life of patients. Our goal is to prevent or treat, as early as possible, the symptoms and side effects of the disease and its treatment. We also work to relieve pain and symptoms and offer emotional guidance at the end of life. Palliative care also is known as comfort care, supportive care or symptom management. 

We address a range of patients' needs: 

  • Physical needs: Common physical symptoms include pain, fatigue, appetite loss, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath and insomnia. Many of these can be relieved with medicines or by using other methods, such as nutrition and cancer rehabilitation therapy.
  • Emotional needs: Palliative care specialists can provide resources to help patients and families deal with the emotions that come with a cancer diagnosis and cancer treatment. Depression, anxiety and fear are only a few of the concerns that can be addressed through palliative care. Experts may provide counseling, recommend support groups, hold family meetings, or make referrals to mental health professionals.
  • Spiritual needs: With a cancer diagnosis, patients and families often look more deeply for meaning in their lives. Some find the disease brings them more faith, while others question their faith as they struggle to understand why cancer happened to them. An expert in palliative care can help people explore their beliefs and values so they can find a sense of peace or reach a point of acceptance that is appropriate for their situation.
  • Practical needs: Cancer patients may have financial and legal worries, insurance questions, employment concerns and concerns about completing advance directives. For many patients and families, the technical language and specific details of laws and forms are hard to understand. To ease the burden, the palliative care team may assist in coordinating the appropriate services.

Woman’s Adult Palliative Care team includes physicians, nurses, social workers and other specialists working together to fulfill our patients’ individual needs. 

Frequently Asked Questions

    Palliative care is given throughout a patient’s experience with cancer. It should begin at diagnosis and continue through treatment, follow-up care, and the end of life.

    At Woman’s, we provide palliative care as part of a multidisciplinary team. This palliative care team includes doctors, nurses, registered dietitians, physical therapists, pharmacists, social workers, psychologists and chaplains. If a person accepts palliative care, she will continue to receive cancer treatment.

    Although hospice care has the same principles of comfort and support, palliative care is offered earlier in the disease process. A person’s cancer treatment continues to be administered and assessed while she is receiving palliative care. 

    Woman’s has palliative care specialists on staff. Additionally, we offer programs that address specific care issues, such as lymphedema, pain, nutrition and social challenges. A patient may also receive palliative care through hospice, or at a facility that offers long-term care.

    Family and caregivers are an important part of cancer care, and it’s common to become overwhelmed by the extra responsibilities. Many find it difficult to manage other obligations, such as work, and they experience stress over helping loved ones in difficult medical situations. Palliative care can help families and friends cope with these worries and fears and give them the support they need.

    Patients and their loved ones should ask their doctor about palliative care. In addition to discussing their needs for symptom relief and emotional support, it’s important for patients to tell their doctor about what they want to know, how much information they want, and when they want to receive it.

    Palliative care services are usually covered by health insurance, Medicare and Medicaid. 

    Research shows that palliative care is important to a patient’s health and well-being, because when cancer symptoms are controlled, patients are better able to communicate their emotional needs.