Palliative care is medical care focused on improving quality of life for patients and their families. A key emphasis is managing pain and other symptoms such as nausea, fatigue, sleep problems, etc. Palliative care also focuses on improving planning and communication among the care team and addressing emotional and spiritual needs.
Palliative care can be given at different levels, both primary care and for serious illness. Palliative care can be used alone or be given along with curative measures that aim to treat cancer or prolong life. At all levels and stages, palliative care is about improving the quality of a person's life and supporting the decisions that he or she makes about care.
Palliative care is different from hospice, which is typically reserved for end of life care. Palliative care can be beneficial at any stage of life and can be given temporarily to people who will fully recover from their cancer. Combining palliative care along with traditional treatment can be very beneficial for patients.