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The present study aims were (1) to identify the proportion of terminally ill cancer patients with desire for hastened death (DHD) receiving specialized palliative care, (2) to identify the reasons for DHD, and (3) to classify patients with DHD into some interpretable subgroups.
Advanced cancer patients admitted to 23 inpatients hospices/palliative care units in 2017 were enrolled. Data were prospectively obtained by the primarily responsible physicians. The presence/absence of DHD and reasons for DHD were recorded. A cluster analysis was performed to identify patterns of subgroups in patients with DHD.
Data from 971 patients, whose Richmond Agitation–Sedation Scale score at admission was zero and who died in palliative care units, were analyzed. The average age was 72 years, common primary cancer sites were the gastrointestinal tract (31%) and the liver/biliary ducts/pancreas (19%). A total of 174 patients (18%: 95% confidence interval, 16–20) expressed DHD. Common reasons for DHD were dependency (45%), burden to others (28%), meaninglessness (24%), and inability to engage in pleasant activities (24%). We identified five clusters of patients with DHD: cluster 1 (35%, 61/173): “physical distress,” cluster 2 (21%, 37/173): “dependent and burdensome,” cluster 3 (19%, 33/173): “hopelessness,” cluster 4 (17%, 30/173): “profound fatigue,” and cluster 5 (7%, 12/173): “extensive existential suffering.”
A considerable number of patients expressed DHD and could be categorized into five subgroups. These findings may contribute to the development of therapeutic strategies.
Cancer-related fatigue (CRF) is a common and one of the most important issues in palliative medicine, and it has been demonstrated to have a significant impact on patient quality of life (QoL). The present pilot randomized controlled study evaluated the efficacy and toxicity of methylprednisolone (MP) for CRF in advanced cancer patients.
Our study was planned as a randomized, double-blind, multicenter, placebo-controlled trial. Patients were randomly assigned to an MP group, who received 32 mg/day of MP orally for 7 days, and a placebo group. The primary endpoint was an improvement in visual analog scale (VAS) score for fatigue from baseline to day 7. The secondary endpoints were improvements in appetite loss and QoL as well as evaluating the safety of corticosteroids as palliative therapy.
It was not possible to complete patient registration. In total, 35 patients were randomly assigned to an MP group (n = 18) and a placebo group (n = 17). The mean changes in VAS score for fatigue were –9.06 in the placebo group and –1.56 in the MP group, and for appetite loss –6.44 in the placebo group and –8.06 in the MP group. In addition, there was no evidence that methylprednisolone improved appetite loss or QoL compared to placebo. The incidence of adverse effects was not greater in the MP group.
Significant of Result:
We conclude that our sample size was too small to prove the efficacy of methylprednisolone in improving fatigue. Our results were reported as a pilot study performed to support a subsequent larger trial.
The primary end points of this analysis were to explore 1) the practices of prognostic disclosure for patients with cancer and their family members in Japan, 2) the person who decided on the degree of prognosis communication, and 3) family evaluations of the type of prognostic disclosure.
Semistructured face-to-face interviews were conducted with 60 bereaved family members of patients with cancer who were admitted to palliative care units in Japan.
Twenty-five percent of patients and 75% of family members were informed of the predicted survival time of the patient. Thirty-eight percent of family members answered that they themselves decided on to what degree to communicate the prognosis to patients and 83% of them chose not to disclose to patients their prognosis or incurability. In the overall evaluation of prognosis communication, 30% of the participants said that they regretted or felt doubtful about the degree of prognostic disclosure to patients, whereas 37% said that they were satisfied with the degree of prognostic disclosure and 5% said that they had made a compromise. Both in the “prognostic disclosure” group and the “no disclosure” group, there were family members who said that they regretted or felt doubtful (27% and 31%, respectively) and family members who said that they were satisfied with the degree of disclosure (27% and 44%, respectively).
Significance of results:
In conclusion, family members assume the predominant role as the decision-making source regarding prognosis disclosure to patients, and they often even prevent prognostic disclosure to patients. From the perspective of family members, any one type of disclosure is not necessarily the most acceptable choice. Future surveys should explore the reasons why family members agree or disagree with prognostic disclosures to patients and factors correlated with family evaluations.
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