Indian Journal of Palliative Care
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Table of Contents 
Year : 2014  |  Volume : 20  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 99-100

End-of-life care for patients afflicted with incurable malignancy and end-stage renal disease

Department of Nephrology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India

Date of Web Publication16-May-2014

Correspondence Address:
Dipankar Bhowmik
Department of Nephrology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0973-1075.132619

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How to cite this article:
Bhowmik D, Kumar A. End-of-life care for patients afflicted with incurable malignancy and end-stage renal disease. Indian J Palliat Care 2014;20:99-100

How to cite this URL:
Bhowmik D, Kumar A. End-of-life care for patients afflicted with incurable malignancy and end-stage renal disease. Indian J Palliat Care [serial online] 2014 [cited 2021 Jun 16];20:99-100. Available from:

End-stage renal failure (ESRD) patients (even without associated malignancy) have a high mortality and morbidity. As per the US Renal Data System (USRDS), the annual crude mortality is approx 20%. [1] The added presence of incurable malignancy definitely worsens the clinical outcomes in terms of quality of life, morbidity and mortality. Hence the utility (or otherwise) of initiating/continuing dialysis must always be assessed in a holistic manner. [2] However, currently most nephrologists are not comfortable with the idea of either withholding or withdrawing dialysis in these clinical settings. A recent study amongst US nephrology fellows revealed that more than two-thirds of the respondents thought that a formal rotation in palliative care during fellowship would be useful. [3] It is in this context that the article by Jing et al. in the current issue of the Journal throws light on management of patients afflicted with incurable malignancy and ESRD requiring dialysis support therapy. [4] As highlighted by the authors these patients have multiple co-morbidities with poor nutrition accompanied by anxiety and depression. The prevalence of such cases in the population is on the rise. Not addressing the need of palliative care in these patients may in fact subsequently lead to tribulation for the patient and the family. [5]

The primary goal of palliative care is alleviation of suffering and improving the quality of life of both the patients and their families. Management of renal failure by peritoneal dialysis (PD), which can be conveniently performed both at home and in the hospice setting, is thus of great help. Delivering the usual optimal dialysis dose in these patients would have limited clinical benefits. Rather, the patient would benefit from the treatment of the various associated symptoms. One of the problems of renal failure is fluid overload which can lead to distressing dyspnea and/or orthopnea. This can be treated/prevented with fluid restriction, diuretics and PD with exchanges of hypertonic glucose solution. Even in cases where PD has been withdrawn, intermittent PD exchanges can easily be done when required to remove extra fluid for the relief of the patient. The other frequent problem in such patients is chronic pain. This can be treated with the various available medications (including opioids) with appropriate dosage adjustment for renal failure. Other symptoms like nausea, pruritus, etc., can also be treated with drugs. Sedatives may also be used as necessary. Unnecessary use of dialysis only increases the cost of health care without accrual of significant benefits to the patients, their families or the society as a whole. Hence universal screening of all ESRD patients for palliative care needs has now been proposed. [6] The time has come for nephrology teams to work in tandem with palliative care practitioners for the care of these patients. [7],[8]

  References Top

1.Mortality and morbidity in patients with chronic kidney disease. USRDS Annual Data Report 2013. p. 63-72.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Seccareccia D, Downar J. "Should I go on dialysis, Doc?" Can Fam Physician 2012;58:1353-6.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Shah HH, Monga D, Caperna A, Jhaveri KD. Palliative care experience of US adult nephrology fellows: A national survey. Ren Fail 2013;36:39-45.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Jing L, Wu-Jun X, Feng T. Palliative care of. Indian J Palliat Care 2013.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Koshy AN, Mace R, Youl L, Challenor S, Bull R, Fassett. Contrasting approaches to end of life and palliative care in end stage renal disease. Indian J Nephrol 2012;22:307-9.  Back to cited text no. 5
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6.Tamura MK, Meier DE. Five policies to promote palliative care for patients with ESRD. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol 2013;8:1783-90.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Leiv-Santos JP, Sanchez-Hernandez R, Garcia-Llana H, Fernandez-Reyes MJ, Heras-Benito M, Molina-Ordas A, et al. Renal supportive care and palliative care: Revision and proposal in kidney replacement therapy. Nefrologia 2012;32:20-7.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Tamura MK, Cohen LM. Should there be an expanded role for palliative care in end-stage-renal disease? Curr Opin Nephrol Hypertens 2010;19:556-60.  Back to cited text no. 8


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