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What Is the Difference between Palliative Care and Hospice Care?

Read Time: 2 minutes

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Palliative care and hospice care often get confused with each other. While both are types of supportive care for symptom relief, they are different. Whether you need palliative care or hospice care, Huntsman Cancer Institute can help you access these services to improve your quality of life.

What is hospice care?

Hospice care is for people nearing the end of their life due to illness. This type of specialized care provides expert pain and symptom management with caregiver support, usually in your home. The goal is to optimize quality of life and keep you doing the things you want for as long as possible. A team consisting of specialty trained doctors, nurses, aides, chaplains, and social workers are available to support you and your family.

What is palliative care?

Palliative care is for anyone who wants help managing a chronic illness and improving quality of life. The goal of palliative care is to provide relief from symptoms and stress. Anyone with a chronic condition, such as cancer, can benefit from palliative care. Palliative care is provided with cancer treatment.

Should I get palliative care or hospice care?

This table lists benefits of both so you and your family can make the best decision for your situation.

  Hospice Care Palliative Care
Who is eligible? Patients who are approaching end of life, who don’t find treatments helpful. Anyone with a chronic illness who wants a better quality of life and to continue treatments.
Do I need a doctor’s referral? No. Your oncology team can facilitate the referral. No. Call 801-213-4246 to get more information.
Can I receive this care at Huntsman Cancer Institute? Yes. Hospice may be provided in the hospital for patients too sick to be cared for in their home. Usually, patients choose hospice support because they want to be at home. Yes. Our Supportive and Oncology Survivorship program can help with this.
Is it covered by insurance? Yes Yes
Can I still take treatment medications while participating? No. While on hospice care, you only take medicines necessary for comfort and pain relief. These are free. Yes

How can I learn more about palliative care and hospice?

Our Supportive Oncology and Survivorship (SOS) team provides support to patients during, and after, cancer treatment. The SOS team works with patients to improve quality of life during the cancer journey.

You can also talk to our cancer information specialists if you have questions about palliative care, hospice care, end-of-life resources, or anything else cancer related. Contact them at the G. Mitchell Morris Cancer Learning Center by calling 1-888-424-2100, emailing or via live chat.

Cancer touches all of us.