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Adult Palliative Care Overview

  • Palliative care can be helpful through all stages of illness. Early on, it can help make medical treatments more tolerable; at later stages, it can reduce suffering, help you carry on with daily life, assist you in planning for future medical care, and provide support for living with a life-threatening illness.

    Palliative care focuses on the whole person: body, mind, and spirit. Our team of professionals aims to provide comfort, preserve your dignity, and help you achieve open communication with your family and caregivers.

    Coping with Cancer Pain: A Handbook for Patients

  • What is Palliative Care?
    James Tulsky, MD, Chair of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care and his team provide emotional and psychological support for cancer patients and their families. Palliative care helps manage pain and discomfort, aiding quality of life.

  • By working with you, your oncology team, and providers in your community, we blend palliative care into your cancer therapy. We provide:

    • Expert treatment of pain and other symptoms
      Pain, nausea, breathing difficulties, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping can make it hard to enjoy life. We can suggest treatments that address these problems.
    • Emotional and spiritual support for you and your family
      A serious illness can be sad and frightening for both patient and family. Talking can be helpful, as can medication. Palliative care can help family members support one another, especially when young children are involved.
    • Help in navigating the healthcare system
      The healthcare system is often confusing and overwhelming. We can help you find resources and figure out what you need.
    • Guidance and support with difficult treatment choices
      Sometimes, patients and families face difficult choices about future treatments: Does the benefit of treatment outweigh the burdens? Is a particularly risky intervention worthwhile? We can help patients and families think about and discuss these concerns.
    • Help in coordinating care at home and in the community
      Community resources can make it possible for you to receive care at home. We can help you find services that meet your goals, and coordinate symptom management and psychosocial support plans with community resources.

    Hospice care

    If your illness progresses despite the treatments you're receiving at Dana-Farber, you and your health care providers may consider the idea of hospice. This service can help you live as well as possible for as long as possible, manage your symptoms at home, and spend precious time with your loved ones. We are happy to provide information or a referral to hospice care.

    Psychosocial oncology and palliative care

    The Adult Palliative Care Program is part of the Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care. Our teams help cancer patients and their families maintain the best quality of life during and after treatment. Our clinicians include physicians, psychologists, nurses, social workers, and a pharmacist who work closely with you and your healthcare team to provide integrated care and support your unique needs.

    Learn more about the Adult Psychosocial Oncology Program


  • Information and Resources

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    Becoming a Patient

    As a new Dana-Farber patient, find answers to questions about your first visit: what to bring, how to find us, where to park, and how to prepare.

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    How Our Patients Rate Dana-Farber

    Take a look at patient satisfaction survey results for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
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    Support Services and Amenities

    We offer a wide range of services, from financial planning to creative arts to spiritual counsel, to support our patients through their cancer experiences.

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    The Leonard P. Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies and Healthy Living

    The Leonard P. Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies and Healthy Living is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for cancer patients and their families by incorporating complementary therapies into traditional cancer care.
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    Nutrition Services

    Our nutrition experts help patients follow a healthy diet during and after cancer treatment.
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    The Eleanor and Maxwell Blum Patient and Family Resource Center

    The Blum Resource Center provides patients and family members with a comfortable environment to learn more about disease treatment and management.