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Life Expectancy in Last Stage Cancer

When a cancer is not treatable, it is terminal cancer or end-stage cancer. Any cancer can become terminal cancer. Terminal cancer and advanced cancer are not the same. Like terminal cancer, advanced cancer is also not curable, but it does respond to treatment, which may slow down its progression. Terminal cancer does not respond to any treatment. As a result, in terminal cancer during the treatment, the main emphasis is to make the patient as comfortable as possible.

In this article, we will discuss last stage cancer or terminal cancer, including its impact on life expectancy and how to deal if you or a loved one receive this diagnosis.

What is the life expectancy of a person with last stage cancer?

Generally, the last stage cancer shortens a person’s life expectancy. A person’s actual life expectancy depends on several factors, including:

  • the type of cancer he has
  • his overall health
  • whether he has any other health conditions
  • whether he has any other comorbidity

 For determining a person’s life expectancy, doctors often rely on clinical experience and intuition. But these criteria might prove incorrect and overly positive on several occasions. To overcome this problem and give accurate information about life expectancy in last stage cancer, doctors and researchers have put forward several guidelines to deal with this problem and give accurate results. These guidelines will help oncologists and palliative care doctors to provide a more realistic idea about life expectancy to the patients. These guidelines comprise:

Karnofsky performance scale

This scale assists doctors to evaluate the overall level of functioning of a patient, including his ability to do daily activities and take care of himself. It is used to compare effectiveness of different therapies and to assess the prognosis in individual patients who are suffering from last stage cancer. In most serious illnesses, the lower the Karnofsky score, the worse the likelihood of survival. The scores are given as a percentage. If the score is low, then the life expectancy would be shorter. 

Palliative prognostic score

The Palliative Performance Scale (PPS) is a validated and reliable tool used to assess a cancer patient’s functional performance and to determine progression toward end of life. It uses the Karnofsky Performance Score (KPS) and five other criteria to generate a numerical score from 0 to 17.5 to predict 30-day survival. In this system, a patient’s score on the Karnofsky performance scale, white blood, lymphocyte counts, and other factors are taken care of. If the score is higher, then the life expectancy would be below.

While these estimates are not always accurate, they serve an important purpose. They can help patients and their doctors make decisions, establish goals, and work toward end-of-life plans.

Are there any treatments for last stage cancer?

Terminal cancer is not curable. This means no treatment will cure the cancer. But many treatments can help make patients as comfortable as possible. This often involves minimizing the side effects of both cancer and any medications being used. Some doctors might still administer chemotherapy or radiation to prolong life expectancy, but this isn’t always a feasible option. Sometimes it depends upon personnel choice also. Some patients with last stage cancer prefer to stop all treatments. This is often due to unwanted side effects.


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