Outpatient Palliative Care

How do I get palliative care for cancer?

Your oncologist or nurse practitioner may refer you to palliative care or you may ask your doctor for a referral.

When you’re diagnosed with cancer, life changes. When life changes, you and your loved ones may need an extra layer of support. Your Bennett Cancer Center oncologist, nurse practitioner, or nurse navigator may suggest palliative care as part of your cancer treatment plan.

What is palliative care?

Palliative care is a specialized approach focused on improving the quality of life for people living with cancer. Our approach adds a specially trained nurse practitioner and social worker to your care team. Together, they get to know you and your family to determine how to best treat physical symptoms, as well as emotional and work/life issues that may occur with a cancer diagnosis.

We'll create a plan that addresses the issues most important to you and your family based on your values, wishes and goals.

What's the difference between palliative care and hospice?

Palliative care is helpful for all patients at any stage of cancer and can be provided along with curative treatment.

Like palliative care, hospice care focuses on managing symptoms and improving and quality of life. With hospice care, treatment shifts from a focus on treating the cancer to a focus on symptom management and comfort. However, hospice care is only available to patients with a life expectancy of 6 months or less. 

How can palliative care improve my quality of life?

Rely on the Bennett Cancer Center's palliative care specialists to:

  • Help to improve your symptoms such as pain, fatigue, or side effects of treatment by creating a personalized care plan.
  • Offer supportive counseling and guidance to you and your family.
    Help you and your family understand what the doctor has told you and help get you answers for questions you may have.
  • Facilitate advance care planning discussions.
  • Develop an individualized care plan based on what is most important to you.
  • Provide a safe place to discuss your fears, concerns and uncertainties.
  • When necessary, provide referrals to healthcare and community partners based on your needs, wishes and goals.

What happens when I see a palliative care specialist?

At your first appointment, you will meet with our nurse practitioner and social worker. This is an opportunity for you to get to know them and for them to get to know you in order to develop the right care plan for you.

The appointment will last about an hour during which you will have the opportunity to discuss your symptoms and/or concerns, ask questions and talk to the team about your cancer diagnosis and treatment plan.

Our team will continue to see you for follow up visits and will be available to you as needed.

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