Monday, July 30, 2018

Cancer, Dementia: End-of-Life Bias, Relationship (Research, Video 2:36)

Do cancer patients with dementia receive less aggressive treatment in end-of-life care? These patients may not be capable of making decisions for themselves, but this should not negatively impact their medical treatment. In a nationwide study of cancer patients with dementia, this theory was tested. 

Medical interventions, including intensive care, palliative care, invasive procedures, and advanced diagnostic testing, were calculated for the final month and three months of life. The following care was noted for cancer patients with dementia:

1)   Longer hospital stays
2)   More intensive care unit stays
3)   Less palliative care than the non-dementia patient
4)   Higher likelihood of receiving invasive procedures, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation, endotracheal intubation, mechanical ventilation, urinary catheterization, and feeding tube
5)   Less likelihood of undergoing chemotherapy and diagnostic procedures

In conclusion, patients with cancer and dementia are more likely to receive intensive care and invasive procedures, but less likely to undergo advanced diagnostic testing, chemotherapy, or hospice care than those with cancer but without dementia.

This kind of biased medical care is not patient-centered or moral. Caregivers of patients with dementia should be especially vigilant in monitoring the care they receive.

Another study about cancer and dementia concludes something very interesting about the relationship between the two. This video affirms that patients with cancer are less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease (the most common form of dementia), and patients with Alzheimer's disease are less likely to get cancer.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.

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