The past 2 decades in the United States have witnessed major developments in palliative care. Despite major advances in the early detection and treatment of cancer, more than 550,000 people in the United States die each year from cancer. For most of these patients, treatment in the last months of life is focused on attempts to achieve comfort rather than on treatment aimed at cure of disease. This article discusses the goals of palliative care, the progress that has been made in meeting these goals, and the progress that still needs to be made.
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