Study: Palliative Care Extends Life

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(flatbushgardener/Flickr Creative Commons)
(flatbushgardener/Flickr Creative Commons)

Medical care aimed at easing suffering at the end of life might also help extend life, according to a new study out of Massachusetts General Hospital.

When doctors and patients embrace so-called "palliative care," it's generally an admission that death is near and there's nothing to be done but make it as painless as possible. A comprehensive team of doctors, social workers and clergy go to work, aiming to ease physical and emotional pain and help the patient and their family ready themselves for the inevitable.

But researchers, reporting their findings this week in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that patients with advanced lung cancer who received palliative care actually lived more than two months longer than those who didn't.


  • Jennifer Temel, MD, lead author of the NEJM study, lung cancer specialist at the MGH Cancer Center
  • Vicki Jackson, MD, MPH, co-author of the NEJM study, acting chief of the MGH Palliative Care Service


This program aired on August 19, 2010.


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