You may have heard about Jeopardy host Alex Trebec’s announcement this year that he had been diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. It’s a devastating disease, with only about a 9% relative five-year survival rate for those at any stage of the disease, and an even more dismal 3% five-year survival rate for those in a late stage like Trebec, according to the American Cancer Society.
While surgery may not be viable for someone in such a late stage of the disease, Trebec, 78, has vowed to fight hard to beat it. CBS News reported that chemotherapy and radiation may still be viable treatments. Symptom management through palliative care will also play a key role for him, as it does for tens of thousands of other cancer patients and millions of people with other debilitating diseases. Continue reading
Photo: George Bush Presidential Library via FlickrFormer First Lady Barbara Bush, who died Tuesday, announced two days earlier that she had ended curative treatment for life-threatening health issues in favor of what was described as “comfort care.”
Death may be the price we pay for life. But many physicians still regard death as a kind of failure. For families and patients, decisions about the management of serious illness and death can seem forbidding and difficult.
Even so, timely discussion of options such as palliative care and hospice care can offer deeply meaningful choices to people navigating life-threatening and terminal illnesses, according to experts on “The Increasing Demand for Palliative Care,” panel last week during Health Journalism 2018 in Phoenix.
“The model I am trying to promote … is earlier conversation,” said Robert Shannon, M.D., assistant professor of family medicine and palliative medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Jacksonville, Fla. Continue reading
Accountable Care Organizations, which were created by the Affordable Care Act as one way to improve the delivery of health care, may become an important want to reduce the wide variation in end-of-life (EOL) care, two academic researchers suggest in a recent Health Affairs blog post.
As we have pointed out repeatedly, while the political and fiscal battles have been over the coverage provisions in the ACA, much of the law also contains incentives and programs to improve both care quality and efficiency. And there are ample opportunities to do so toward the end of life, including in hospice. Continue reading
It’s been some month. With so many high-profile deaths reported this January — David Bowie, Eagles co-founder Glenn Frey, Dan Haggerty of Grizzly Adams, the husband and the brother of singer Celine Dion, Mott the Hoople’s Dale Griffin – it’s enough to give you the shivers.
We know about these deaths because they’re high-profile celebrities and rock icons.We don’t generally know about the thousands of other, less-famous people who also died this month from cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, complications from multiple chronic conditions or other causes. With the world paying attention — in part thanks to Bowie’s final gift of “Blackstar” – it’s an opportunity to extend the discussion surrounding palliative care, hospice and how we want to die. Continue reading
As 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day, Medicare spending will skyrocket. About 30 percent of Medicare’s costs are for care in the last year of life. Research has shown that many people nearing the end of life are not informed of their treatment options and their doctors are unaware of their preferences for treatment, which contributes to a lower quality of life at the end of life.
Author and editor Rosemary Gibson has written a guide for AHCJ members that explains hospice and palliative care, the differences in the two, highlights the most recent research, lays out developments and trends for reporters to look for and provides a list of sources and contact information.
Every family is touched by the end of life of a loved one. Every reporter who covers Medicare policy and health and aging issues will want to know about hospice and palliative care.
The tip sheet is just one of dozens AHCJ offers in its special “Aging” core topic area of healthjournalism.org.