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What is the definition of palliative care?

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Palliative care is a type of medical treatment that focuses on improving the patient's quality of life by lessening pain and discomfort, explains Mayo Clinic. Palliative care does not attempt to cure patients; rather, this type of treatment makes life more comfortable for people with serious, life-threatening or chronic conditions.

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Palliative care may involve physical, spiritual, emotional or legal assistance, explains the National Cancer Institute. Pain management therapies help patients cope with symptoms and side effects, while talk therapy and support groups provide emotional care. Some palliative care programs offer practical assistance to manage health insurance issues, advanced care directives, and wills and other legal paperwork.

At the end of a patient's life, palliative care may be the only treatment available. However, patients can begin palliative care as soon as they are diagnosed with a serious illness, explains the National Cancer Institute.

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