August 3, 2015 – Too Much Care
Anchor lead: Many cancer patients receive futile care at the end of life, Elizabeth Tracey reports
Even though more people are identifying someone to make healthcare decisions for them at the end of life, that hasn’t reduced the use of chemotherapy or other interventions in the last weeks of life, a Johns Hopkins study led by Amol Narang has found. There was also no relationship with how long someone knew they had cancer.
Narang: These were mostly patients above the age of 70. We did look at when the cancer was diagnosed, and that actually did not seem to have a relationship with either the frequency with which advanced care planning was happening or the intensity of end of life care that was provided. That argues that even in these situations where there’s ample opportunity to have these conversations we’re just not doing a good job at having them. :29
Narang says physicians need to be trained to have these conversations, for everyone’s benefit. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.