NEJM: Pain Management Lacking for Kids Dying of Cancer
Children dying of cancer often suffer more than necessary because physicians are so determined to cure them that they don't attend enough to easing symptoms, according to a study published in today's New England Journal of Medicine. A research team led by a pediatric oncologist from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute spoke with parents of 103 children who had died of cancer between 1990 and 1997 and found that 92 of the children had suffered "a great deal" or "a lot" of pain from at least one symptom shortly before dying. The most common complaints were fatigue, pain, shortness of breath and poor appetite, followed by nausea and vomiting, constipation and diarrhea. While most of these children were treated for pain, only 27% felt better (AP/Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2/3). Researchers also noted the that children who suffered most were those whose primary doctors were no longer involved in their care at the very late stages of their lives (Grady, New York Times, 2/3).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.