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Supportive Care

Supportive Care Service Chief Judith Nelson (left) and nurse practitioner Rosetta Richards

At Memorial Sloan Kettering, we are focused on all aspects of comprehensive cancer care. This means offering the most-advanced treatments for cancer along with supportive care. Supportive care is sometimes called palliative care. It includes ways to help people cope with cancer and treatment so they can live the best lives possible. Our Supportive Care Service provides expert care for the symptoms of cancer and its treatment. We also supports clear communication between patients, their families, and the care team. In addition, we make sure that cancer care matches up with patients’ priorities and values.

Supportive care starts at the very first appointment. It is part of the attention we give to every person who is treated for cancer at MSK, no matter what kind of disease or diagnosis they have. It continues through all phases of care, as well as after treatment is completed. Research has shown that people with cancer have better outcomes when supportive care is part of treatment.

Supportive care is provided by MSK’s cancer care teams along with specialists from our Supportive Care Service. Together, we work to ease pain, nausea, fatigue, and other symptoms. We help patients cope with any anxiety, depression, or other emotions about their cancer diagnosis and treatment. We also help them meet spiritual needs.

MSK’s supportive care and cancer care teams have ongoing discussions with patients and their families about decision-making. At MSK, we are always guided by patients’ own goals. We work together when there are changes in where or how people receive care, for example, when they are moving from the hospital to their home to recover from surgery. We want these changes to be well coordinated and easy for patients and their families.

Who are the members of the Supportive Care Service?

Specialist supportive care at MSK is given by a large, expert, and highly collaborative team. This includes doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, a social worker, an interfaith chaplain, a pharmacist, and dedicated administrative personnel.

Our team is led by Judith Nelson, Chief of the Supportive Care Service. Dr. Nelson specializes in palliative medicine and intensive care. She is internationally recognized as a leader in research, education, clinical care, and quality improvement. Kimberly Chow, Clinical Program Manager and Nurse Practitioner Coordinator, has a national reputation for excellence in the field.

Where do members of the Supportive Care Service work?

Our practice is rapidly growing within Memorial Hospital and at MSK’s outpatient and regional locations.

For people being treated as outpatients, we strive to provide them with the most convenient care. We try to schedule supportive care appointments on the same day and in the same location as their visits with their cancer doctors. We also work with cancer care teams to arrange services for patients going home from the hospital. For people who choose hospice care, we are available to ensure a smooth transition.