- Care given to improve the quality of life and help reduce pain in people who have a serious or life-threatening disease, such as cancer. The goal of palliative care is to prevent or treat, as early as possible, the symptoms of the disease and the side effects caused by treatment of the disease. It also attends to the psychological, social, and spiritual problems caused by the disease or its treatment. For cancer, palliative care may include therapies, such as surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy, to remove, shrink, or slow the growth of a tumor that is causing pain. It may also include family and caregiver support. Palliative care may be given with other treatments from the time of diagnosis until the end of life.