Palliative Care

At the Sentara Martha Jefferson Cancer Center, our doctors and nurses consider the whole person while giving care.

They understand that the reduction or elimination of unpleasant symptoms can be vital to a patient's enjoyment of everyday life. An important tool in reducing difficult symptoms or distress is collaboration with our palliative care team.

Palliative care is a specialty whose primary focus is the reduction of suffering. It is provided along with all other treatments aimed at cure, such as chemotherapy and radiation. Our oncologists may consult the team to help with distressing symptoms such as pain, nausea, fatigue, anxiety or shortness of breath. The team also helps with distressing emotional, spiritual or family concerns.

Our palliative care team includes an advanced practice nurse, a chaplain, social workers and a specially trained physician.

It is important to realize that palliative care is not hospice care, which is offered near the end of a person's life. Instead its focus is improving quality of life for people receiving treatment intended to cure them or for people with chronic illnesses. Palliative care referrals are made by your physician.

Unlike other specialties, palliative care is not a self-supporting service. There is no reimbursement for the services of the supportive nurse, chaplain or social workers. We continue to offer this important service with the help of philanthropy.