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Managing Cancer Care

Questions to Ask About Palliative Care

If your health care team has mentioned palliative care, you should understand its benefits and limitations. Consider asking your oncologist or oncology nurse these questions to learn as much as you can about your care options.

  • Are you recommending palliative care for me? Why?
  • How do I find out if I’m eligible?
  • What is included in palliative care that’s different from the care you can give me?
  • Who will be part of my palliative care team?
  • Where will I receive palliative care?
  • Do I need to check with my insurance company about coverage for palliative care?
  • How long will my palliative care last?
  • What will the palliative care team do if my symptoms get worse? What if my symptoms get better?
  • How will you communicate with the palliative care team and my other doctors?
  • How are my family and friends involved in palliative care?
  • What decisions do I need to make? Can you be involved in those decisions with me?

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as editors and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Along with the American Cancer Society, other sources of information on palliative care include:

  • Has information on palliative care for patients and home caregivers, including where to find palliative care programs in your state

City of Hope Pain/Palliative Care Resource Center

  • Web-based clearinghouse of information and resources to help patients and families to improve the quality of pain management and palliative care

Krouse RS, Kamal AH. Interdisciplinary care for patients with advanced cancer. In DeVita VT, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA, eds. DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg’s Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2019:2242-2247.

Marrelli TM. Hospice and Palliative Care Handbook. Indianapolis, IN: Sigma Theta Tau International; 2018.

Nabati L, Abrahm JL. Caring for patients at the end of life. In Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Kastan MB, Doroshow JH, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff’s Clinical Oncology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:751-763.

Sherman DW, Matzo M, Metheny T. The interprofessional practice of palliative care nursing. In ML Matzo, ed. Palliative Care Nursing. 4th ed. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company; 2014:3-20.

Last Revised: May 10, 2019

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