About Palliative and Supportive Care

UT Health Austin’s Livestrong Cancer Institutes currently provides care to those diagnosed with or at risk of gynecologic cancer as well as individuals diagnosed with gastrointestinal, head and neck, hematologic, and lung cancers.

Palliative and supportive care works with patients and their care partners to manage the discomfort, stress, symptoms and side effects related to their cancer and treatment. This may include pain, distress, nausea, trouble sleeping or eating, constipation or diarrhea, fatigue, and shortness of breath. We help ensure that treatments align with patient and family priorities and care preferences, and help work through complex decision making. We assist patients and families with advance care planning in an iterative way, recognizing that care priorities may evolve and change.

Who Should Receive Palliative and Supportive Care

All cancer patients should have access to palliative and supportive care from time of diagnosis and throughout their cancer journey regardless of age, stage, or prognosis. This service is available to all patients receiving cancer care in the CaLM model.

Our palliative care team provides personalized care to the specific needs of patients, which may change throughout their cancer journey. The goal is to help patients achieve comfort, capability and calm.

What Palliative and Supportive Care Looks Like

Our palliative care team spends time listening to patients and recognizing their needs and wants throughout their cancer journey. They need to know the goals of patients and their loved ones in order to work with them to find the right treatment options. Palliative care providers work with patients to create a plan to address their needs, including physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual.

Our palliative care providers coordinate with the patient’s medical oncologist, advanced practice provider, and other providers so that the entire care team is aware of the patient’s needs and preferences.

What Palliative and Supportive Care Is Not

Palliative and supportive care are not the same as hospice care or end of life care. Both palliative care and hospice aim to bring comfort for patients with serious illness, and both can be provided at end-of-life.

However, palliative and supportive care is appropriate for all patients with serious illness, like cancer, at all stages of their illness. Studies have demonstrated that people who have a serious cancer live longer and with better symptom control if palliative care is a component of their care. Hospice care is a type of palliative care that is helpful to people who choose to focus on best quality of life rather than on aggressive life-extending therapies like chemotherapy. Most patients receiving care in our clinic are not eligible for hospice, but can receive the benefits of palliative and supportive care in our clinic.