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Palliative Care

Physician taking blood from patient

A cancer diagnosis can cause emotional and physical symptoms that may feel overwhelming. The Palliative Care Clinic at Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center provides supportive services for patients and their families who have been diagnosed with cancer.

The clinic is a team of oncologists, nurses, social workers, and other supportive care providers who have specialized training in palliative care.

Palliative care is an important part of Abramson Cancer Center’s holistic approach to cancer treatment. The team works closely with the patient’s cancer treatment team to create an individual care plan and provide the best quality of life for each and every patient.

What is Palliative Care?

Palliative care helps patients deal with the physical and emotional distress caused by a cancer diagnosis and treatment. The less distress that patients have, the more energy they can direct toward recovery.

Palliative care can provide patients and families with services such as:

  • Pain and symptom management
  • Emotional and social support
  • Assistance with understanding complicated medical choices and decisions
  • Coordination of care with other providers such as pharmacy, physical therapy, home care, and our dedicated palliative radiation program
  • Expert consultation for symptom management and support during any inpatient hospitalizations

Who Can Benefit from Palliative Care?

The goal of palliative care is to help patients and their families achieve their individual goals while maintaining the best possible quality of life. It is a common mistake to think that palliative care is only for patients who are ending curative treatment. Palliative care is helpful for patients at any stage of cancer treatment, including newly diagnosed patients.

Comprehensive Supportive Care Services

Effective palliative care requires the expertise of an interdisciplinary team in order to adequately assess and treat the complex needs of cancer patients and their families. Our Palliative Care Program includes professionals from medicine, nursing, social work, psychology, psychiatry, nutrition, shiatsu therapy, music therapy, art therapy, chaplaincy and other professional disciplines who work together to implement a personalized plan of care for each patient.

We offer comprehensive pain and symptom management that includes a thorough assessment done by one of our pain experts followed by treatment recommendations that are discussed with your primary oncologist.

Social workers provide emotional support for patients and families and address practical concerns about finances, health insurance, or managing at home. We provide information about advanced directives and living wills and help you complete these forms if interested.