A new study by UCLA researchers has found that, while more than half of all men dying of prostrate cancer do use hospice care, most wait far too long to enroll, thereby missing out on many potential benefits. A quote from their press release, published on NewsWise.com:
For hospice care to be most effective, patients should be enrolled for several weeks prior to their deaths. However, the study found most men enrolled just one to two weeks before they died, said Dr. Mark Litwin, a professor of urology and public health, a Jonsson Cancer Center researcher and senior author of the study.
“It’s important that we maximize quality of life when quantity of life cannot be changed,” Litwin said. “Most men are being referred to hospice too late and that timing hasn’t changed in the last 20 years, which is unfortunate. As cancer specialists, we should offer these patients the best quality of life that we can, and that often means offering them the best quality of death that we can give them.”

While thinking used to be that preserving life at all costs was a doctor’s goal, it is recognized that, when the inevitable is at hand, it is often healthier for both patient and family to simply be as comfortable as possible so they can enjoy their time together.

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