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This page is part of our If your care needs increase series. It addresses questions around palliative treatment and services, and gives information to help people make the choices that are right for them.


Ovacome is a national charity providing support to those affected by ovarian cancer. We give information about symptoms, diagnosis, treatments and research. Ovacome runs a telephone and email support line and works to raise awareness and give a voice to all those affected by ovarian cancer.


What services are there for me now?

Your care and treatment needs may be changing during your illness. It may be that your cancer is no longer responding fully to active treatment such as chemotherapy or maintenance drugs. You may find that the side effects of your treatment are starting to outweigh its benefits to your health.

These changes can happen if your illness is progressing, or you might have been diagnosed when your cancer was at a later stage.

Your clinical team might suggest that it is time to review your care and treatment and discuss whether to focus on symptom control for your best quality of life. Your GP may also help you to choose this care and refer you to the services you need.


What is palliative care?

Palliative care is given to improve quality of life. It aims to keep you as well as possible for as long as possible by treating your symptoms and side effects as early as possible. You can receive palliative care while you are still having active treatment.
It can be called supportive care and symptom management or comfort care. You can get this care at home, in an outpatient clinic, in hospital and at a hospice as an outpatient or an inpatient.

Your condition may stabilise while you are receiving palliative care, so you could then be discharged from the service or admission, but you can always return if you need to.

Palliative care aims to manage symptoms rather than cure the cancer. For instance, providing effective pain control, helping with shortness of breath, loss of appetite, fatigue, or difficulty sleeping.

You will receive care and treatments that will address problems that stop you living your life to the full. These may not always be physical problems. Palliative care also supports people’s emotional and spiritual needs, supports families, and can provide help with financial and legal issues.


Will I have to use a hospice?

Most palliative care is given in the community, but that is often delivered by hospices and their staff and other professionals who work with them.

Hospices are mostly known for the inpatient end of life care they provide, and this is still an important and valued service. However, around 40 per cent of hospice inpatients come for a short stay to get more complex physical or psychological symptoms under control and then go home again.

You may be able to have all the care you need given to you at home. But hospices offer opportunities to take part in activities such as music and art projects and other social occasions. Some of these activities will need to be accessed online.

Hospices also offer rehabilitation programmes to keep up your strength and keep you as mobile and independent as possible. They can organise help with bathing and other personal care.

The hospice home care teams have a telephone service to deal with medical emergencies that occur overnight or at weekends.

Diane is a former palliative care nurse specialist, she uses services at her local hospice to help with her ovarian cancer.

“I felt a huge sense of relief to be referred, because I knew that I would be able to access the most amazing support and resources.

Hospices are all about helping people to live their best life.

“When most people think of hospice care they think of a building where people are admitted for end of life carebut this is only a part of the specialist care they provide.

“Most of the work they do is about promoting life and living at home. They do this through treating any distressing symptoms, listening to difficulties and finding solutions. Hospices give advice and support to services that can support you at home and provide specialist care to meet your needs.

Hospice staff can be there for you at the end of the phone on bad days.

“Most in-patient admissions are to relieve complex symptoms that can be hard to manage at home because they need continuing assessment and adjusting treatments as necessary. When this is achieved, the patients go back home. The aim is to stabilise people’s conditions so that they can live the best life possible in their own home.”

“I know that when I need more support the local hospice will be a sanctuary for me whether their help is given through community services or as an inpatient.”


What can I expect from palliative care at home?

If you want to receive your care at home, let your GP and medical team know.

The community palliative care team will be able to visit you at home. This specialist care will be given by consultants trained in palliative medicine, specialist nurses plus occupational therapists and physiotherapists.

Your palliative team will be made up of different health professionals who will co- ordinate your care alongside your GP and community nursing team.

Your local authority social services can provide a range of services, equipment and home adaptations that will help you to retain your independence and remain at home.


Finding more support

You may want the support of other people receiving palliative care. Ovacome runs many support groups for people with ovarian cancer. There is and End of Life Matters group too. Your local hospice and other community organisations might have social groups where you feel supported and comfortable to share your experiences.


Useful information

Macmillan Cancer Support 0808 808 0000

Marie Curie Cancer Care 0800 090 2309, has nine hospices and 2000 nurses providing free care.

Hospice UK

NHS England - End of life care

Palliative care Scotland

End of life and palliative care


If you would like more information on the sources and references for this booklet, please call us on 0800 008 7054.

If you would like to discuss anything about ovarian cancer, please phone our support line on 0800 008 7054 Monday to Friday between 10am and 5pm. 

Booklet text reviewed by Dr Sarah Batty, Speciality Doctor in Palliative Medicine and GP.

This booklet is one of four in the series If your care needs increase, funded by the James Tudor Foundation.

Disclaimer: Ovacome provides information and support. We make every effort to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information at the time of publication. The information we give is not a substitute for professional medical care. If you suspect you have cancer you should consult your doctor as quickly as possible. Ovacome cannot accept any liability for any inaccuracy in linked sources. Rights reserved.

V.1. Date last updated September 2021, due for review September 2024

Did you find this page helpful? We welcome your feedback. If you have any comments or suggestions, please email [email protected] or call 0207 299 6653.