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What is palliative care?

Palliative care is specialized medical care for people living with a serious illness. Its focus is on improving quality of life for the patient. A serious illness is a health condition that carries a high risk of mortality (death) and either negatively impacts a person’s daily functioning or quality of life, or excessively strains caregivers.

Palliative care is focused on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness – whatever the diagnosis. Palliative care is provided throughout the course of an illness, alongside potentially curative treatments (such as chemotherapy or radiation) or life-prolonging care.  It is not just for people with cancer or certain illnesses, it’s for anyone living with a serious illness. It is not just for people at the end of life and can be provided even if you are expected to get better or live a long time.

Patients who receive palliative care report living happier lives with far less suffering and less loss of independence. In many cases, patients live better, and in some cases actually live longer, than patients without palliative care.

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