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Next frontier: How can modern medicine help dying patients achieve a 'good' death?
Date:5/15/2014

(TORONTO, Canada May, 15, 2014) -- The overall quality of death of cancer patients who die in an urban Canadian setting with ready access to palliative care was found to be good to excellent in the large majority of cases, helping to dispel the myth that marked suffering at the end of life is inevitable.

"Fear of dying is something almost every patient with advanced cancer or other life-threatening illness faces, and helping them, to achieve a "good death" is an important goal of palliative care," says Dr. Sarah Hales, Coordinator of Psychiatry Services, Psychosocial Oncology & Palliative Care, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. "We know a lot about disease and the physical symptoms that it may produce, but only recently have we focused on approaches to relieve the fear of death in patients and families and to address the emotional, spiritual and existential concerns that support the quality of the dying experience."

Link to video of Dr. Sarah Hales: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ecYCvLF9M1w

Understanding the multiple dimensions of the dying process has helped us better care for patients and families at this stage of life, says Dr. Rodin, Head of the Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. "We have found that individuals evaluate differently the dimensions of the experience, which include symptom control, the sense of life closure and facing the end of life without overwhelming fear. The perspectives of patients on these issues at the end of life may differ from those of their family and health care providers."

The study, entitled "The Quality of Dying and Death in Cancer and Its Relationship to Palliative Care and Place of Death," is in press but on-line in the prestigious Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, with Dr. Sarah Hales, Lecturer, Department of Psychiatry, University of
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Contact: Alex Radkewycz
Alexandra.Radkewycz@uhn.ca
416-340-3895
University Health Network
Source:Eurekalert

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