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Thursday, October 14, 2010

“What Would You Do”? The Ethics behind the Final Months of a Cancer patient's life

The world, I would hope, is built upon the notion of love and kindness. We are taught to be unselfish and do what’s right in times of need. Therefore, when someone we love is diagnosed with cancer, we do whatever is necessary to attempt to give them the best medical care possible. Whether it be blood tests, screening, surgery, chemotherapy, clinical trials of drugs, we do whatever we can in order to take away any guilty feeling we may contain at our core. With that said I would like to state a fact: Approximately Twenty-five per cent of all Medicare spending is for the five per cent of patients who are in their final year of life. Most of that money goes for care in their last couple of months which is of little apparent benefit.  Therefore, as can be seen, insurance companies spend tons of money at the end stages of a cancer patients’ life, while at the same time causing a huge financial burden on the families as well as the insurance companies who have to deal with these costs. Don’t get me wrong, when your mom, dad, or loved one is obviously suffering, you need to fight for their life just like they would for you. However, when someone we love is already suffering immensely, do we really want to put them through more forms of treatment without inconclusive evidence that the treatment is affective?  Maybe it’s time for us to adapt a health care system in which we listen to what the cancer patient wants at the end of their life, rather than focusing on the family who feels guilty making any wishes against prolonging the life of their loved ones. Maybe, instead of focusing our efforts on risky experimental procedures focused we should put more effort ensuring that patients are comfortable and happy at the end of their lives.

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