For terminal patients, early talk about end of life can alter choice

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End of Life Care ChoicesTerminal cancer patients who receive information early about end-of-life care receive less medical care during their last days and are more likely to enter hospice, according to a study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The findings suggest that early discussion about the likely outcome of a terminal illness can dramatically change a patient’s end-of-life decision-making.

According to the study, which was carried out by a team led by Dr. Jennifer Mack of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, national guidelines suggest that doctors begin discussions about end-of-life care shortly after diagnosing a terminal illness. But, the researchers write, it has been unclear whether such conversations actually affect end-of-life care.

To find out, Mack and her team studied 1,231 patients who had stage IV lung or colorectal cancer and survived at least a month after the study began but died during the 15-month period of the study. The researchers recorded when patients had end-of-life discussions with their doctors and kept track of the care they received.

Full story of terminal patients at the Los Angeles Times

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