Friday, September 10, 2021

Canadian Cancer patients dying by euthanasia are less likely to have the diagnosis confirmed or attempted effective treatments.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

An article by Ed Susman published on September 9 in Medpage Today reports on a presentation to the World Conference on Lung Cancer by Dr Sara Moore, a  University of Ottawa medical oncologist. Moore examined 45 euthanasia (MAiD) deaths of people with lung cancer living in the Ottawa region. She concludes that people with lung cancer who died by euthanasia were less likely to consult with a radiation or medical oncologist and less likely to undergo effective treatments.

According to Susman, Moore's research found that 20% of those who died by euthanasia did not consult a radiation oncologist and 22% did not consult a medical oncologist. Susman further reports:

"Biomarker-driven targeted therapy and immunotherapy offer effective and tolerable new treatments, but a subset of patients undergo medical assistance in dying without accessing -- or, in some cases, without being assessed for -- these treatment options," Moore continued. "Most patients were assessed by an oncology specialist, though less than half received systemic therapy."

"Given the growing number of efficacious and well-tolerated treatment options in lung cancer, consultation with an oncologist may be reasonable to consider for all patients with lung cancer who request medical assistance in dying," she said.
Further to that 13 of the 45 lung cancer patients who died by euthanasia did not have a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis.

Even though lung cancer survival rates have improved, the presentation proved that some people diagnosed with lung cancer will ask for MAiD without confirming the diagnosis or trying effective treatments. The Canadian (MAiD) euthanasia law does not require a person to try treatments.

The data from this study is consistent previous data indicating that people who ask for assisted suicide are often experiencing feelings of depression or hopelessness.

Not to suggest that euthanasia is ever justified, but since euthanasia ends the person's life, an act that cannot be reversed, therefore euthanasia should not be approved until the diagnosis is confirmed and effective treatments are attempted.

Jeannette Hall, of Oregon would have died by assisted suicide 21 years ago if her oncologist didn't convince her to try effective treatment (Link).

The study is limited based on the small group examined by the researchers.

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