The goal of palliative care is to help patients with a serious illness feel better. It prevents or treats symptoms and side effects of disease and treatments. Palliative care also treats emotional, social, practical and spiritual problems that illness brings up. When the patient feels better in these areas, he or she has an improved quality of life.
Palliative care can be given at the same time as treatments meant to cure or treat the disease. You may get palliative care when the illness is diagnosed, throughout treatment, during follow-up and at the end of life.
Palliative care may be offered for people with illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, lung diseases, kidney failure, dementia, HIV/AIDS and ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). You do not need to give up your doctor or your treatments to get palliative care.