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New research may help dispel the misconception that drugs used during hospice care to control pain and other symptoms hasten death. In fact, according to results of a large retrospective study, terminally ill patients who received hospice care lived longer than those who didn't enter hospice.
Researchers evaluated survival rates of 4,493 terminally ill patients who died within a 3-year period. They defined survival as the time from the start of the terminal stage of illness to death. In total, 2,095 patients received hospice care.
Overall, patients in hospice lived 29 days longer than those who didn't receive hospice care. Here's the survival advantage hospice provided for several terminal illnesses:
* heart failure: 81 days
* lung cancer: 39 days
* pancreatic cancer: 21 days.
Hospice care offered a marginally significant advantage for those with colon cancer. It didn't provide any survival advantage for patients with breast or prostate cancers.
Connor SR, et al., Comparing hospice and nonhospice patient survival among patients who die within a three-year window, Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, March 2007.
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