Cancer patients given fluids live longer

Dying cancer patients given fluids will generally live longer, a new study led by researchers from Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Surrey has found.

End-of-life receiving assisted hydration had a 26 per cent greater survival, which meant that they lived for on average one-and-a-half more days, compared to those who were not receiving such treatment.

Over a year more than 200 , who were in the last week of their life, took part in the study at four cancer centres and eight hospices across the country.

All of the participants, aged between 28 and 98 years, were unable to maintain sufficient intake on their own and as a result received it either intravenously, administered directly into a vein, or subcutaneously, delivered under the skin.

They were assessed every four hours, with the teams collecting data on clinical problems, interventions and overall survival.

As well as increasing life by an average of one-and-a-half days, patients' receiving fluids were also found to have good symptom control, and to suffer from minimal side effects.

A further study is now planned to continue to evaluate the role that providing fluids plays in end of life care.

Andrew Davies, a consultant in Palliative Medicine at Royal Surrey, said: "The provision of clinically assisted hydration at the end-of-life is one of the most contentious issues in medicine.

"The results of this study are certainly interesting, but a larger study is needed to confirm the role of clinically assisted hydration at the end of life".

"For some patients and their families living an extra day or so may be extremely important, as it can give them an opportunity to say their goodbyes, have family arrive from abroad, write a will or even get married.

"Nevertheless, for other patients, living an extra day or so may be the worst thing possible."

Dr. Agnieszka Michael, Medical Director of the Clinical Trials Unit at the University of Surrey, said: "Hydration of dying patients in palliative care delivers the gift of time however this is not a gift that all patients and their families desire.

"Hydration plays a key role in delaying the dying process, why this is remains unknown. We will be exploring this in further studies and the results from this will help improve quality in end of care."


Explore further

Italy OKs living wills amid long-running euthanasia debate

More information: A cluster randomised feasibility trial of clinically assisted hydration in cancer patients in the last days of life. Journal of Palliative Medicine. DOI: 10.1177/0269216317741572
Journal information: Journal of Palliative Medicine

Citation: Cancer patients given fluids live longer (2018, January 10) retrieved 20 July 2019 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-01-cancer-patients-fluids-longer.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
1 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more