Palliative Care and Hospice


At some point in your cancer journey, you may need to consider palliative care or hospice. Palliative care is a treatment that helps relieve pain and symptoms but does not provide a cure. Palliative care can be used along with your prescribed cancer treatment. Hospice is a type of palliative care. Specifically, hospice is end-of-life care. Both palliative care and hospice aim to improve quality of life. Talk with your healthcare team about what is best for you. Below you will find more information about hospice and palliative care. Use the questions at the end to guide talks with your healthcare team.

  • Palliative care

    • Palliative care helps relieve pain and symptoms but does not provide a cure.
    • You may use palliative care at any point during your cancer journey. A patient does not have to be terminal to receive palliative care.
    • Palliative care can be combined with other forms of treatment.
    • You may use palliative care to manage side effects from treatment.
    • Some forms of palliative care may be covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or other insurance plans.  Often, costs for palliative care fall on the individual.
  • Hospice

    • Hospice is a type of palliative care.
    • Hospice is end-of-life care. Terminal patients with a life expectancy of six months or less often use hospice.
    • Hospice care is not usually given at the same time as other treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation. Hospice is given after treatment options have been exhausted.
    • Medicare pays for all hospice costs. In most states, Medicaid pays for hospice costs. Most other insurance plans have hospice benefits.
  • Questions to Ask Your Healthcare Team

    • Should I consider palliative care now or in the near future?
    • Will my insurance cover my palliative care?
    • How long can I get palliative care?
    • Where will I get my palliative care?
    • Can I still do treatment for my illness while doing palliative care?
    • Should I consider hospice care now or in the near future?
    • Will insurance cover my hospice care?
    • If my life expectancy is longer than six months, can I still get hospice care?
    • Can I get hospice care in my home?
    • Who will be caring for me? Will they be doctors, nurses, social workers, or home health aides?
    • What legal issues such as advanced directives, living wills, or medical power of attorney should I think about? Read Advanced Directives to learn more. 

To learn more, watch this video: The Difference Between Palliative Medicine and Hospice Care.