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Friday, 28 April 2017

Thousands of cancer patients dying in hospital despite preference to die at home

Written by Jane Kirby

Thousands of cancer patients every year are dying in hospital against their wishes, a new report says.

More than 62,000 cancer patients die in hospital every year in the UK, 38% of all those who die from the disease.

This is despite the fact that 64% of people with cancer say they would prefer to die at home, the study from Macmillan Cancer Support found.

Macmillan surveyed more than 1,700 people who had been diagnosed with cancer to find out their preferences on where they would like to die.

Just 1% of people with cancer wanted to die in hospital, with 18% saying a hospice and 64% saying in their own home.

The research also found that almost one in four people with cancer have thought about dying from the disease constantly or often.

But more than a third said they had not talked about these feelings with anyone.

Fewer than one in 10 (8%) have discussed their feelings about dying with health staff looking after them.

When asked why they had not shared their worries with anyone, a fifth (20%) said they did not feel comfortable talking about it, while 22% said they did not want to bother anyone.

Lynda Thomas (pictured), chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, said: "At Macmillan, we believe there is such a thing as a 'good' death, which is possible when someone has the right care, their pain is managed, and - where possible - they have choice about where they die.

"The only certainty in life is that we will all die. What is less certain is where and what experience we will have when it happens.

"It's only by talking about dying that we can agree what is really important to us, and put plans in place to make that happen.

"It's vital that the next Government prioritises care for people at the end of their lives, so more people can have a say about what matters to them at the end."

The new report - No Regrets - said "there is a crisis of communication in the UK when it comes to death".

It added: "Many of us face barriers that stop us talking about dying and health and social care professionals, too, may be missing key opportunities to bring up the topic."

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