Continuous deep sedation does not appear to shorten life in patients with advanced cancer cared for by specialized palliative care services, and could be considered a viable option for palliative care in this setting, a new study published online ahead of print in the journal The Lancet Oncology has shown.1

Because continuous deep sedation before death as a form of palliative sedation therapy has become a contentious topic, particularly in regard to whether it shortens survival, researchers sought to evaluate whether continuous deep sedation shorten patient survival.

For the study, researchers analyzed data from a large multicenter prospective cohort study that enrolled 2426 patients from 58 palliative care institutions across Japan. For this analysis, 1827 of the 2426 patients were included. Of those, 15% received continuous deep sedation.

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Results showed that median survival was 22 days (95% CI: 21-24) in the continuous deep sedation group and 26 days (95% CI: 24-27) in the no continuous deep sedation group (HR, 1.01; 95% CI: 0.87-1.17; P=.91).

Researchers found that care setting had a significant effect on the association between sedation and survival (P=.021), while age, sex, performance status, and volume of artificial hydration had no impact.


1. Maeda I, Morita T, Yamaguchi T, et al. Effect of continuous deep sedation on survival in patients with advanced cancer (J-Proval): a propensity score-weighted analysis of a prospective cohort study [published online ahead of print November 20, 2015]. Lancet Oncol. doi:10.1016/S1470-2045(15)00401-5.