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Palliative care (from Latin palliare, to cloak) is any form of medical care or treatment that concentrates on reducing the severity of disease symptoms, rather than striving to halt, delay or reverse progression of the disease itself or provide a cure. The goal is to prevent and relieve suffering and to improve quality of life for people facing serious, complex illness. Non-hospice palliative care is not dependent on prognosis and is offered in conjunction with curative and all other appropriate forms of medical treatment. It should not be confused with hospice care which delivers palliative care to those at the end of life. In the UK this distinction is not operative; hospices and non-hospice-based palliative care teams both provide care to those with life limiting illness at any stage of their disease.

See History and Practice below for additional information on hospice and hospice care.

The term "palliative care" may be used generally to refer to any care that alleviates symptoms, whether or not there is hope of a cure by other means; thus a recent WHO statement[1] calls palliative care "an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problems associated with life-threatening illness." Palliative treatments may also be used to alleviate the side effects of curative treatments, such as relieving the nausea associated with chemotherapy.

The term "palliative care" is increasingly used with regard to diseases other than cancer such as chronic, progressive pulmonary disorders, renal disease, chronic heart failure, and progressive neurological conditions. In addition, the rapidly-growing field of pediatric palliative care has clearly shown the need for services geared specifically for children with serious illness.


The article above is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Hospice care".