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Study Shows Palliative Pain Treatment Does Not Hasten Death

One of the most daunting challenges of treating mesothelioma patients is finding the right balance in prescribing pain medications. It has long been conventional wisdom that providing too high a dose of opiates can hasten death, and this has led to physicians being increasingly hesitant in dispensing them. But now a study published in the Annals of Palliative Medicine has shown that not only does providing advanced stage cancer patients not hasten death, it may in fact prolong survival.

The study was conducted by S.A. Alsirafy and colleagues. The group followed 123 patients who had been diagnosed with different advanced stage cancers, including mesothelioma. The group was categorized into three different groups based upon the dosage of opiate medications that their physicians had provided during the course of their treatment at the end of their lives. The divisions were classified as those who had received little to no medication, those who had received intermediate doses of between 120 and 300 milligrams of medication per day, and those who had received more than 300 milligrams per day. The mesothelioma patients who were included in the study were largely represented in the high dosage group. The study’s authors then compared survival rates for each of the three groups.

Although it has been thought that higher doses of opiates have a negative impact on overall health, and might even hasten death, the study found that this was not the case. The group that was provided with the lowest levels of pain medication had the shortest average time to death, with a median survival of just 45 days. The group that was given the most medication had a median survival of 153 days.

The study’s authors wrote, “The results suggest that the dose of opioids has no detrimental impact on the survival of patients with advanced cancer in an Egyptian palliative care setting.” They also indicated that there needs to be more research done into this important area of study in order to “overcome barriers to cancer pain control.”

For those tasked with treating mesothelioma patients in the last days of their lives, as well as for those who are suffering from the disease, pain control is a crucially important issue. As mesothelioma tumors grow in size they cause increasing degrees of discomfort.

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer is an independent writer, editor and proofreader. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Her dreams of a writing career were diverted by a need to pay her bills. She spent a few years providing copy for a major retailer, then landed a lucrative career in advertising sales. With college bills for all three of her kids paid, she left corporate America for a return to her original goal of writing. She specializes in providing content for websites and finds tremendous enjoyment in the things she learns while doing her research. Her specific areas of interest include health and fitness, medical research, and the law.

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