Dr. Amy Case speaks with a male patient in clinic

Supportive and Palliative Care

What is Supportive and Palliative Care?

Supportive and Palliative care is a medical subspecialty that focuses on quality-of-life issues for patients and their families as they cope with their cancer and its treatment.

Sometimes confused with hospice care, supportive and palliative care is provided at any stage of a serious illness and alongside cancer treatment. Hospice care refers to the intense palliative care provided at end of life, when curative treatments have ceased.

Our Supportive & Palliative Care program provides essential support and symptom management to our patients who are facing difficult symptoms such as pain, nausea, poor sleep, or anxiety related to cancer and its treatment, or who may be feeling overwhelmed or don't have the support they need to get through their treatment. Our team will take the time to listen to you, assess your symptoms and provide a way forward to:

  • Relieve pain and other physical symptoms
  • Improve quality of life and ease emotional distress
  • Create a healthcare plan to alleviate anxiety about the unknown

Why it’s important

Medical evidence shows that patients who receive palliative care live longer and enjoy better quality of life and satisfaction, reduced pain, and less depression.

Have you or your loved one experienced?

  • A change in the focus of your treatment or care
  • Frequent unscheduled clinic visits, emergency room visits or hospital admissions

How we can help

If your doctor recommends a palliative care consultation, this does not mean your treatment stops or that you are dying. Palliative care is provided as an extra layer of support along with your cancer treatment. We prefer that patients seek supportive and palliative care earlier in their cancer journey rather than later, in order to receive maximum benefit.

Our team includes two physicians, a nurse practitioner, social worker, chaplain, and mental health professionals who hold advanced training in palliative care, and provide:

Time to listen to you, explain issues, answer questions and help guide you through your cancer journey.

Treatment of physical symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath, constipation, or nausea.

Emotional support such as personal or family counseling to combat depression, anxiety, distress and conflict resolution.

Spiritual care for spiritual support.

Healthcare planning to help you and your family develop a plan that focuses on your needs and goals.

Medical marijuana certifications are available in addition to multiple other medical interventions to address cancer pain, nausea, and poor appetite.

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Meet the Team

The Supportive and Palliative Care Team at Roswell Park works with your attending physician and can join your care process at any time. It is a common misperception that palliative care is offered only for patients who are ending curative treatment.

The Supportive and Palliative Care Team includes:

Amy Case, MD, FAAHPM
Chair, Department of Supportive Care
Lee Foundation Endowed Chair of the Department of Palliative and Supportive Care
Eric Hansen, MD
Associate Professor of Oncology
Desi Carozza, MD
Medical Director
Division of Geriatrics and Medical Ethics
Mercy Tomy, MD
Associate Professor of Oncology
William Alexander, MD, PhD
Associate Professor of Oncology

If you or your loved one has identified one or more of these concerns, you may wish to discuss a Supportive & Palliative Care referral with your physician. The Palliative Care team is located in the Survivorship & Supportive Care Center on the 3rd floor of the Scott Bieler Clinical Sciences Center. For questions, call 716-845-8214.

If you are a Supportive and Palliative Care patient who needs assistance on the weekend or after 5 p.m. on weekdays, please contact the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center operator at 716-845-2300 and ask for the Supportive and Palliative Care physician on call.