What’s the Difference Between Hospice and Palliative Care?

Q: Are hospice and palliative care the same thing?

A: People often confuse palliative care with hospice. Both types of care ease the suffering severe illness can bring — pain, troublesome symptoms, depression and more.

The difference is in their timing. You can begin palliative care at any time. It is usually given in tandem with other medical treatments, as an added layer of support.

In contrast, hospice is comfort care, offered when you are not expected to live beyond six months because medical treatments no longer help you. (It’s worth noting that people can remain in hospice for years, however.)

Palliative care — originally developed to help cancer patients — is now used to help people suffering from a wide range of diseases, including heart failure. Research shows that palliative care can even extend life.

Similarly, any patient entering the final phase of life can receive hospice care, either at home or at a hospice center.

Both types of care will improve the patient’s quality of life and will provide caregivers with emotional and practical support.

So just because you or your loved one must deal with a chronic illness doesn’t mean you have to live with discomfort, pain or anxiety.

If the need should arise, don’t hesitate to seek care from a palliative care specialist or — when it’s time — from hospice.

— Psychosocial oncologist Joel Marcus, PsyD, and palliative medicine physician Kyle Neale, DO 


This article was written by Cancer Care Team from Cleveland Clinic and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].


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