Palliative Care

Palliative care is given to help improve the quality of life of someone with a serious or life-threatening disease. Its goal is to prevent or treat, as early as possible, symptoms and side effects of a disease and its treatment.

Palliative care — sometimes called comfort care or supportive care — also addresses the patient’s and family’s psychosocial and spiritual issues.

At UC San Diego Health, the palliative care team works in our hospitals and offers outpatient appointments to cancer patients.

Who Needs Palliative Care?

Palliative care appointments are available to any UC San Diego Health patient with a cancer diagnosis. Palliative care is not synonymous with end-of-life or hospice care, although they share the principles of comfort and support. In fact, many patients with survivable cancers seek palliative care, and we encourage patients to see us early in their cancer treatment.

Research shows that palliative care and its many components benefit a patient's and the family's health and well-being, and may help to prolong and improve life. For more information, see Facts vs. Myths About Palliative Care.

Our Services

Our team includes physicians, psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, pharmacists and social workers. We can help:

  • Manage pain and other symptoms
  • Educate patients about non-drug options for pain management
  • Clarify treatment plans and goals of care
  • Make plans for the future
  • Provide counseling and caregiver support
  • Inform patients about clinical trials


The palliative care team sees patients for outpatient appointments at Moores Cancer Center in the Multispecialty Clinic (first floor). Please ask your UC San Diego Health oncologist for a referral.

Your first appointment will be scheduled for one hour and will include a meeting with a palliative care physician and other members of the team. We recommend you bring a list of your current medications, and consider having a family member come along to help take notes.

Doris A. Howell Consult Service

Dr. Doris Howell

At UC San Diego Health, our palliative care service is officially named after Dr. Doris Howell, a pediatric oncologist who has devoted her life to caring for patients and training the next generation of doctors in San Diego. Dr. Howell is now proud to see the service thrive, with teams serving UC San Diego hospitals and the Moores Cancer Center.

Appointments & Referrals


La Jolla

Meet Our Specialists

Clinical Trials

For palliative care clinical trials, see Moores Cancer Center Clinical Trial Search and select Palliative Care.