Supportive care is the care given to improve the quality of life of patients who have a serious or life-threatening disease. The goal of supportive care is to prevent or treat as early as possible the symptoms of a disease, side effects caused by treatment of a disease, and psychological, social, and spiritual problems related to a disease or its treatment. Also called comfort care, palliative care, and symptom management.
Supportive care is not intended to cure the disease itself. It provides patients of any age or disease stage with relief from symptoms, pain, and stress, and should be provided along with curative treatment.
While supportive care may be delivered by oncology doctors and nurses, they may ask for the help of a specialized team of doctors, nurses, and other specialists who work with them to provide an extra layer of support addressing the patients’ needs and helping patients and their families have a voice in realizing their treatment goals.
Supportive care focuses on helping people get relief from symptoms caused by serious illness – things like nausea, pain, fatigue, or shortness of breath. Supportive care looks to help with emotional and spiritual problems, too. It’s treatment of the symptoms – it’s not expected to cure any serious illness. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.
Supportive care may also increase survival.