When a cancer is not treatable, it is known as 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?
The most critical stage of cancer, with the highest risk of mortality, is stage 4. However, there are several factors that can affect an individual’s life expectancy. Not all stage 4 cancers are terminal, but they are generally advanced and require more aggressive treatment. When cancer is deemed terminal, it means it is incurable and will eventually result in death, often referred to as end-stage cancer.
Treatment options for terminal cancer aim to control the disease rather than cure it, and more severe cancers are more likely to be terminal. Treatment plans for stage 4 cancer vary depending on the type of cancer and its spread. Some treatments aim to improve quality of life and manage symptoms, while others aim to stop the cancer’s growth, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, surgery, and targeted therapy. While chemotherapy may have increased risks when cancer has extensively spread, radiation therapy can shrink tumors and alleviate symptoms. Immunotherapy helps the immune system fight the cancer, and targeted therapy slows tumor growth.
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.
Some may choose to participate in experimental clinical trials.
These trials’ treatments are uncertain to cure terminal cancer, but they do contribute to the medical community’s better understanding of cancer treatment. They may be able to assist future generations. This can be a viable approach for someone to make their final days noticeable.
Complementary and Alternative Treatments
Complementary and alternative therapies have emerged as a beacon of hope for cancer patients seeking additional ways to fight this formidable disease. The incorporation of Anti-cancer diet, Ayurveda, Medical Cannabis, and Nutraceuticals into traditional cancer treatments has proven to be a potent combination, providing a multifaceted approach that targets cancer on multiple levels. Scientific research has revealed that these alternative therapies can aid in reducing the side effects of conventional treatments, such as nausea, vomiting, low appetite, insomnia, and pain. Furthermore, they work towards strengthening the body’s immunity and addressing the root cause of cancer.
Indeed, an integrative approach that combines these complementary therapies with medical treatments can offer a powerful synergy that enhances efficacy and improves life expectancy. With Anti-cancer diet emphasizing whole foods, fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats, Ayurveda’s focus on balancing the body, mind, and spirit, Medical Cannabis’s effectiveness in reducing chemotherapy side effects, and Nutraceuticals such as curcumin, green tea, and resveratrol’s anti-cancer properties, cancer patients can optimize their health and well-being while battling this disease.
Acupuncture, massage treatment, and relaxation techniques are also some options for patients can consider to help relieve pain and discomfort while potentially lowering stress.
Many doctors also advise patients with terminal cancer to seek health from mental health counselor to help them deal with fear and depression. These symptoms are typical in terminal cancer patients.