Stanford Palliative Care Center of Excellence

Division of Primary Care and Population Health, Department of Medicine

Our Team

Clinical Care

Provider Education

What is Palliative Care?

The term "Palliative Care" (pronounced pal-lee-uh-tiv) comes from the word "palliate" which means to alleviate or reduce suffering.

Palliative Care is specialized medical care for people living with a serious illness.

  • This type of care focuses on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of the illness.
  • The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.
  • Palliative care is provided by a specially-trained team of doctors, nurses, and other specialists who work together with a patient's other doctors to provide an extra and essential layer of support.
  • Palliative care is based on the needs of the person, not on the prognosis.
  • It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness, and it can be provided along with curative treatment.



Palliative care is person-centered care. Everything about it is bringing the person into the conversation.

How Can Palliative Care Help?

In palliative care, we aim to see the person beyond the disease. We provide care to both the person living with the illness as well as those close to them such as family, friends, and caregivers.

We provide holistic, or "whole person," care that aims to address the body (physical symptoms), mind (psychological distress), spirit (existential or spiritual concerns), and practical aspects of life.

 We offer office- and telehealth-based visits with a team of doctors, nurses, social workers, and spiritual care providers. We work alongside your other doctors to help improve your quality of life and help you live as well as possible.

Is Palliative Care Right for You?

Ask your doctor for a referral to palliative care if you are:

  • Living with pain, stress, or other symptoms that aren't getting better.
  • Feeling weaker and less able to go about your regular daily activities.
  • Going to the hospital or emergency department repeatedly for the same things.
  • Wanting more information about your illness, treatment options, and help making decisions and planning.
  • Needing psychological or spiritual support.


Amy describes living with breast cancer and how palliative care helped her focus on living as well as possible and maintaining quality of life

We are the quarterback of that team.

David talks about how the palliative care team took an interest in him as a person and helped him feel more comfortable.

It's not really a treatment, its a treat!

Steve Pantilat, MD describes when you should consider asking your doctor for a referral to palliative care.

If you have a serious illness [or] symptoms that are bothering you [or] wondering what the future holds.

How To Get Palliative Care at Stanford

Call Us Directly

Contact Palliative Care directly at (650) 724-0385

Get A Referral

Ask your doctor or nurse for a referral to palliative care

Choose Your Stanford Clinic Location

Clinics available in Palo Alto, San Jose, Emeryville, and via TeleHealth

Follow Up

Follow-up appointments are available in-person, by telephone, or via video visits

All of our clinicians...are so passionate that this service is accessible for patients and families who need it.