Palliative sedation at home for terminally ill children with cancer

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Context. The presence of symptoms that are difficult to control always requires adjustment of treatment, and palliative sedation (PS) should be considered. Objectives. We analyzed our experience in conducting PS at home for terminally ill children with cancer during a seven-year period. Methods. We performed a retrospective analysis of medical records of children with cancer treated at home between the years 2005 and 2011. Results. We analyzed the data of 42 cancer patients (18% of all patients); in 21 cases, PS was initiated (solid tumors n = 11, brain tumors [5], bone tumors [4], leukemia [1]). Sedation was introduced because of pain (n = 13), dyspnea (9), anxiety (5), or two of those symptoms (6). The main drug used for sedation was midazolam; all patients received morphine. There were no significant differences in the dose of morphine or midazolam depending on the patient's sex; age was correlated with an increase of midazolam dose (R = 0.68; P = 0.005). Duration of sedation (R = 0.61; P = 0.003) and its later initiation (R = 0.43; P = 0.05) were correlated with an increase of the morphine dose. All patients received adjuvant treatment; in patients who required a morphine dose increase, metoclopramide was used more often (P = 0.0002). Patients did not experience any adverse reactions. Later introduction of sedation was associated with a marginally higher number of intervention visits and a significantly higher number of planned visits (R = 0.53; P = 0.013). Conclusion. Sedation may be safely used at home. It requires close monitoring and full cooperation between the family and hospice team. Because of the limited data on home PS in pediatric populations, further studies are needed. © 2014 American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine.




Korzeniewska-Eksterowicz, A., Przysło, Ł., Fendler, W., Stolarska, M., & Młynarski, W. (2014). Palliative sedation at home for terminally ill children with cancer. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 48(5), 968–974.

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