Explore the Palliative Care Program


Our services are available to patients at any phase of a life-threatening condition, including right after diagnosis or during active treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation. Services are also available to those living with a serious chronic illness or dealing with advanced stages of disease. In addition to helping with pain and symptom management, we help patients and families define their goals for care and make treatment choices. All services are coordinated with the other medical specialists delivering care.

The Palliative Care Program welcomes patients and family members who are facing a serious or life-threatening illness, regardless of diagnosis or ability to pay. Services are provided to inpatients and outpatients. If required, we can provide referrals for hospice care.

Innovative Approaches

Our focus is on managing symptoms so that patients can enjoy their friends, families, and activities for as long as possible. Among the unique approaches we use to keep patients comfortable, active and alert are:

  • A combination of medications and lifestyle approaches that focuses on maximum comfort and that is tailored to the needs of each patient
  • Involvement of palliative care specialists early in treatment
  • Outpatient clinics
  • Home visits (for patients and families living near the hospital)
  • Ongoing bereavement support

Multidisciplinary Patient Care

Palliative care teams include specialists from a variety of medical areas to help patients and their families with the emotional, physical, social, psychological and spiritual repercussions of late-stage or life-threatening disease. The teams are made up of specially trained physicians, nurses, social workers and chaplains who provide care and support that enhances quality of life in the hospital, the patient's home, or in other settings such as a rehabilitation center. Services vary depending on patient and family preferences, but may include:

  • Pain and symptom management, including nausea and fatigue
  • Individual and family counseling to support open communication between patient, family, and care team
  • Emotional and spiritual support, including attention to end-of-life concerns, offered with respect and concern for each individual’s needs and preferences.
  • Help in planning for care after hospital release, including providing information about home care and other inpatient settings
  • Referrals to hospice care
  • Assistance with treatment choices and decisions, including clarifying the goals of care
  • End-of-life care to relieve pain and symptoms and to assist patients with advanced disease live life to the fullest with quality and dignity
  • Bereavement support and referral, including suggestions for community resources and one-page bereavement readings mailed to families during the first year after the death.

Services vary depending on patient and family preferences.

Developing Better Therapies through Research

As part of the largest hospital-based research program in the United States, the Cancer Center is involved in hundreds of projects aimed at improving the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Among these projects are clinical studies to improve quality of life for cancer patients through palliative care. Recent and current initiatives include:

  • A study to encourage cancer doctors to discuss and document their patient’s goals of care and end-of-care wishes.
  • Integrating palliative care early in the treatment of newly diagnosed patients to enhance collaboration and provide more comprehensive care
  • Measuring the impact of merging palliative care and intensivist cultures (in Medical Intensive Care Unit)


Dr. Vicki Jackson provides a general overview of palliative care, the services offered at Mass General Cancer Center, and how they can benefit patients and families when cancer has touched their lives.

Patient Education and Resources

Palliative Care & Geriatric Medicine

Palliative Care & Geriatric Medicine

Learn about Mass General's Division of Palliative Care & Geriatric Medicine.

Supportive Care

Supportive Care

We offer a variety of education and support resources to help you and your family.

Workshops & Support Groups

Workshops & Support Groups

We offer a wide range of integrative therapies, workshops and support groups.