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J Pain Symptom Manage. 2002 Jul;24(1):64-70.

Management of infections in palliative care patients with advanced cancer.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Salem, VA 24153, USA.


To characterize infections and their management in oncology patients at the end of life, we conducted a review of the literature. Eight studies assessing infection in 957 patients with various malignancies were identified. Forty-two percent of terminally ill patients developed infections in the final phase of care. The greatest frequency of treatment with antibiotics occurred in acute care hospitals. Enterobacteriaceae and S. aureus were the most frequently isolated bacteria, and urinary and respiratory tracts the most frequently involved sites of infection. A total of 19-39% of individuals with suspected infection and advanced cancer died. The decision whether to treat or not in the palliative care setting may be complex and requires an individualized approach. Further research in this area will help develop a consensus for management that will facilitate education of students and residents regarding complex decisions of care of infections at the end of life.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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