About Palliative and Supportive Care

UT Health Austin’s Livestrong Cancer Institutes currently provide 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.

Our palliative and supportive care team works with patients and their care partners to manage the discomfort, stress, symptoms, and side effects related to cancer and treatment, such as pain, distress, nausea, trouble sleeping or eating, constipation or diarrhea, fatigue, or shortness of breath. Our care team ensures patient treatment aligns with patient and family priorities and care preferences, helps patients and families work through complex decision making, and assists patients and families with advance care planning in a way that recognizes 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 that aligns with the CaLM (Cancer Life reiMagined) model.

Our palliative and supportive care team tailors care to the specific needs of each patient, which may change throughout their cancer journey. The goal of this support is to help patients achieve comfort, capability, and calm.

What palliative and supportive care looks like

Our palliative and supportive care team spends time listening to patients and their loved ones to better understand their goals and help them find the right treatment options.

Our palliative and supportive care team coordinates 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. Our care team works with patients to address all of their needs to includes physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual.

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, such as cancer, at all stages of their illness. Studies have demonstrated that people who have a serious type of 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, such as 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.