Oncologists often manage cancer-associated symptoms including pain. When symptoms are severe, anesthesia-pain medicine (APM) and/or palliative medicine (PM) can effectively treat symptoms. Nevertheless, symptom management may be suboptimal, leading to diminished quality of life (QOL). We assessed the value of PM vs. APM consultation in cancer patients referred for pain management alone. Patients referred to an APM-based Cancer Pain Clinic (CPC) over an 8-month period were evaluated by PM or APM based on the first available appointment. Symptoms and QOL were assessed by the MD Anderson Symptom Inventory and Linear Analog Self-Assessment at baseline and 4-6 weeks after initial encounter. Data were analyzed on an available-case basis. Sixty-two patients (37 PM, 25 APM) completed the initial survey, with 48 patients (31 PM, 17 APM) completing follow-up. Mean pain score improved from 7.97 to 5.47 in the PM group (P < 0.0001) and from 7.1 to 4.5 (P = 0.29) in the APM group. The PM group demonstrated a clinically significant improvement in 8/19 symptoms vs. 3/19 in the APM group and in 3/5 QOL parameters in the PM group vs. 1/5 in the APM group. Our small sample size weakens our power and ability to detect significant differences between the groups. Only one follow-up symptom-assessment point was obtained. PM consultation is as effective as APM in improving cancer pain but may be more effective with symptom management and improving QOL. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.