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Cancer

Cancer query

01/31/2008

Question:

One of my family members has been told he has secondary liver cancer and also a tumour in his stomach. The primary cancer started in his gullet but was not detected untill it was too late. He has been told there is no treatment and to spend quality time with the family. I would like to know what kind of difficulties we are going to face. Are all his organs going to shut down? Will he be in a lot of pain? Is he going to slip into a coma near the end etc etc..

Answer:

It is not really possible to predict the manner in which some one will die, however many people with cancer that started in the digestive system will spend more and more time sleeping and eventually slip into a coma. NOT EVERY CANCER PATIENT HAS PAIN OR HAS A PAINFUL DEATH. If your family member does have pain, it can almost always be controlled.

I highly recommend that someone asks the doctor for a referral to a hospice program. Nurses will come to your family member’s house, or wherever they are living, and focus on any difficulties the person may be experiencing. They will work on things such as pain, nausea, bowel problems, depression, etc. They will talk with you about how people die and what to look for. It is the best program available and is paid for by almost every insurance company.

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Response by:

Joanna M Brell, MD Joanna M Brell, MD
Formerly, Assistant Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University