Indian Journal of Palliative Care
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Year : 2010  |  Volume : 16  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 83--89

Care of terminally Ill cancer patients: An intensivist's dilemma

1 Department of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care, Gian Sagar Medical College & Hospital, Ram Nagar, Banur, Punjab, India
2 Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Gian Sagar Medical College & Hospital, Ram Nagar, Banur, Punjab, India

Correspondence Address:
Sukhminder Jit Singh Bajwa
Department of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care, Gian Sagar Medical College & Hospital, Ram Nagar, Banur, Punjab
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0973-1075.68406

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Background and Context: Treatment of terminally ill cancer patients always poses great challenges especially when these critical patients are admitted in intensive care unit (ICU). The severity of their diseases throws a clinical and ethical dilemma to the treating intensivist. Aims and Objectives: To evaluate the benefits of intensive care treatment in terminally ill cancer patients and also to find out whether optimal utilization of critical care resources has got any positive financial, psychological and clinical outcome. Materials and Methods: A retrospective evaluation of 53 terminally ill cancer patients, who got admitted to ICU of our department, was carried out. Majority of these patients presented with terminal phase of illness involving multi-organ pathologies with diverse range of symptoms. These patients were provided ventilatory, symptomatic and supportive treatment on patient-to-patient basis. Strict and vigilant monitoring of all vital parameters was carried out. At the end of study, all the data was compiled systematically and was subjected to statistical analysis using non parametric tests. Results: The demographic profile of such patients was highly variable with regard to educational, social and financial status (P<0.05). The most common group of cancer was hematological malignancies (24.53%) followed by lung cancer (18.87%), uteri-ovarian (15.09), colorectal (13.2%) and others. Significant number (P<0.05) of patients (64.15%) required mechanical ventilation and ionotropic support (79.24%). Mortality increased with increasing number of organ system involvement and reaching up to 100% with involvement of 5 or more organ systems. Conclusions: ICU care is the best form of treatment for terminally ill but resources should be used optimally so that a young deserving patient should not be sacrificed for the scarcity of resources.


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Online since 1st October '05
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