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Neurol Med Chir (Tokyo). 2005 Dec;45(12):657-9.

Care for dying patients with primary malignant brain tumor.

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Division of Neurosurgery, Tochigi Cancer Center, Utsunomiya, Japan.


Patients with primary malignant brain tumor experience deterioration of multi-focal neurological deficits such as hemiparesis, aphasia, visual field defects, dysphagia, and disturbance of recent memory at the advanced stage of disease. With these advancing neurological deficits, many patients will inevitably prepare for death and may experience psychological and spiritual distress. Active listening is an important skill to explore the fears of patients with a terminal illness but in the advanced stage of a primary brain tumor, patients usually have great difficulty with verbal expression. Even if patients do not suffer from complete expressive aphasia, they often have difficulty verbalizing their thoughts and feelings. Sadly, disturbance of vocal expression is a common accompaniment of this pathology. Unless the pathophysiology is understood, an observer may fail to comprehend the patient's non-verbal communication. Seeking to understand these issues is a prerequisite of the preservation of dignity and provision of ethical care for such patients.

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