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Controlled Sedation to Treat Pain and Severe Physical Symptoms in Terminally Ill Patients Explored in Journal of Palliative Medicine.

LARCHMONT, N.Y. -- Knowing that effective relief from severe pain and distress at the end of life is available will bring comfort to patients who may worry that nothing can be done to ease their suffering, report the authors of two papers in the February issue (Volume 8, Number 1) of Journal of Palliative Medicine, a peer-reviewed publication of Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., and the official journal of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. The papers are available free online at

Terminally ill cancer patients often fear that if their pain and suffering become unbearable conventional pain relief strategies will not be effective. But two case studies report that controlled sedation, in which sedative drugs are prescribed in doses designed to reduce awareness of physical symptoms and psychological distress, can be used near the end of life to alleviate symptoms that do not respond to maximal medical therapy. The medication used has a calming, sedating effect, allowing patients to approach the end of life in a peaceful state.

Hiroyuki Kohara, M.D., Ph.D., from the Palliative Care Unit of the National Sanyo Hospital in Yamaguchi, Japan, and colleagues report on the effectiveness of sedation in relieving severe, physical symptoms in terminally ill cancer patients and the effects of sedation on consciousness. Major symptoms requiring sedation were severe shortness of breath, pain, agitation, and nausea/vomiting.

Brigit Taylor and Robert McCann, M.D., of the University of Rochester, School of Medicine and Dentistry, in New York, present a case study in which a terminally ill cancer patient is assured of receiving sedation if his/her pain and physical symptoms become severe. The authors distinguish between controlled sedation to relieve intolerable suffering and active euthanasia, defining controlled sedation as the use of medication to bring a patient to the point of unconsciousness to relieve intolerable suffering before an inevitable death, but not to hasten or bring about death.

"The drive for physician-assisted suicide is substantially diminished when the public and their physicians know about this medical development," says Charles F. von Gunten, M.D., Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Palliative Medicine.

Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., is a privately held, fully integrated media company known for establishing authoritative peer-reviewed journals in many promising areas of science and biomedical research, including AIDS Patient Care and STDs, Disease Management, and The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Its biotechnology trade magazine, Genetic Engineering News (GEN), was the first in its field and is today the industry's most widely read publication worldwide. A complete list of the firm's 60 journals, newsmagazines, and books is available at
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Publication:Business Wire
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 18, 2005
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