When can I start palliative care?

Once you know your cancer is advanced, it is a good idea to start exploring the options provided by palliative care. Talk to your doctor about a referral to palliative care services. You can find out what the different team members do and which services might be relevant now or in the future.

Sorting out care earlier rather than later will reduce stress on you and your family. It will allow time to better understand and manage any physical symptoms (such as pain or nausea), and to consider your practical, emotional and spiritual needs.

Some people live comfortably for months or years after a diagnosis of advanced cancer; they can be supported by palliative care services as needed throughout this time.

For others, the cancer advances rapidly so that their care is focused on end-of-life needs soon after their referral to a palliative care service. Whatever stage you’re at, your palliative care team will continually assess your changing needs and adjust your care.

This information was last reviewed in April 2017
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