As if it is not enough that cancer patients go through so much physical and emotional pain, they receive treatments that neither guarantee to prolong their lives nor treat the disease.
Being tied in a hospital bed only kills patients faster, but it is avoidable since a new study from Japan shows that those who choose to spend their last days at home live 45% longer than those who stay at the hospital.
The study was conducted in 2016 by Jun Hamano, MD, of the University of Tsukuba in Japan and his colleagues. Out of 2069 dying patients that they observed, 1,582 were treated in a hospital, and 487 spent their last days at home. Those who stayed at hospital lived on average for 9 days, while patients at home for 13 days.
“The cancer patient and family tend to be concerned that the quality of medical treatment provided at home will be inferior to that given in a hospital and that survival might be shortened; however, our finding–that home death does not actually have a negative influence on the survival of cancer patients at all, and rather may have a positive influence,” said Dr. Hamano.
And this is not the only study that proves that patients live longer at home, and suffer less.
In a 2014 study it’s been concluded that chemotherapy is unnecessary for terminal cancer patients and that it only contributes to a faster and agonizing death. There is data proving this.
“Our finding that patients who received palliative chemotherapy were at risk of receiving more aggressive end-of-life care underscores the importance of oncologists asking patients about their end-of-life wishes. We often wait until patients stop chemotherapy before asking them about where and how they want to die, but this study shows we need to ask patients about their preferences while they are receiving chemotherapy to ensure they receive the kind of care they want near death,” said Alexi Wright, MD, lead author of the study.
These treatments are not only unnecessary for cancer patients, but for dying patients in general. They cost Medicare $50 billion a year in the last 2 months of their lives as reported by CBS News.
Dr. Ira Byock explained that it costs about $10,000 per day to have a person in the Intensive Care nit (ICU), where up to 20% of the Americans spend their last days, uncomfortable and isolated from loved ones.
“…It’s extremely expensive. It’s uncomfortable. Many times they have to be sedated so that they don’t reflexively pull out a tube, or sometimes their hands are restrained. This is not the way most people would want to spend their last days of life. And yet this has become almost the medical last rites for people as they die,” Byock said.