Research shows thousands of cancer patients denied wish to die at home

Topics covered: Ridouts professional advice

Research by Macmillan Cancer Support shows although 1% of cancer patients say they would prefer to die in hospital, only 38% do. This equates to 62,000 people a year across the UK.

Reasons for this are due to a lack of health services outside hospitals, such as district nurses, to support people in their homes in their last days.

Adrienne Betteley, Macmillan’s Head of Health and Social Care, said:-

“A crisis of communication in the UK when it comes to death and especially cancer patients’ reluctance to talk about their feelings, including their death, was preventing people achieving their own preferences.

“There is a stark difference between a ‘good’ and a ‘bad’ death. We want everyone, where possible, to have a death that’s pain-free and in the place of their choosing. This is where the power of talking about death in advance is crucial.”

The research also revealed that among 2,005 people who had been diagnosed with cancer, three in four that thought about the fact that they might die from the disease and one in five thought about it constantly or often. But 35% of those questioned had not spoken to anyone else about how they were feeling and just 8% had discussed matter with any of their health professionals. The charity suggests people with cancer are more likely to discuss how they are feeling, particularly about where they want to die.

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