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Palliative Care

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The goal of palliative care is to improve the quality of life of those with serious illness by preventing or treating, as early as possible, symptoms and side effects of a disease and its treatment. Palliative care also addresses psychosocial and spiritual issues.

At UC San Diego Health, our team of experts who specialize in palliative care is one of the busiest and most well staffed in the country. They offer comprehensive and compassionate care to those who are hospitalized with a serious illness. They also offer outpatient appointments to those with cancer.

Our Services

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

  • Manage pain and other symptoms
  • Educate patients about non-drug options for pain management
  • Clarify treatment plans and help patients understand their options
  • Provide counseling and caregiver support
  • Provide social work support
  • Provider spiritual support

Facts About Palliative Care Teams

  • Specialist palliative teams are quality-of-life experts for those with serious illness at any stage of disease. Although palliative and hospice teams share the same principles of comfort and support, palliative care often begins at diagnosis and continues during treatment and beyond. Palliative care is not synonymous with end-of-life care.
  • Palliative teams provide an added layer of support in addition to your prescribed treatment. They can help you achieve your best quality of life throughout treatment. You will continue to receive care from your other physicians.
  • Family and caregivers also benefit from a palliative team's work. Your doctors and nurses benefit, too, because they know they are meeting your needs by providing care that improves quality of life..

Who Needs a Palliative Care Team?

Palliative team appointments are available to any UC San Diego Health patient with a cancer diagnosis. Many people seek palliative care soon after a new diagnosis of serious illness for assistance in maximizing their quality of life as they pursue other treatments. We encourage patients to see us early in their cancer treatment.

Research shows that palliative care teams benefit a patient's health and well-being, and may help to prolong life.


The palliative care team sees patients for outpatient appointments at Moores Cancer Center. Please ask your UC San Diego Health oncologist for a referral.

Your first appointment will be scheduled for one hour.  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 Teams

Dr. Doris Howell

At UC San Diego Health, our palliative care teams are 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 people across UC San Diego Health and 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.