Benefits of palliative care include longer, better life, study finds

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Some terminally ill patients who receive palliative care live longer and with a better quality of life than those who receive standard medical care, a new report suggests.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School evaluated the life expectancy and quality of life of roughly 150 patients with terminal lung cancers. They compared 74 patients who received standard medical care in the last months of life with 77 patients who received palliative care in addition to standard care after diagnosis. Patients were asked questions about their mood and their quality of life at the start of the study and again after 12 weeks of treatments.

Patients receiving palliative care, which focuses on treating pain, anxiety and loss of appetite, reported a 50% lower rate of depression than non-palliative patients. They also lived an average of 2.5 months longer than the other patients, according to the report. The study appears in the Aug. 19 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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