The Health News – 12 October 2015

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 12th October 2015. Read by Rebecca Foster.Overview: • The study from Cicely Saunders Institute at King’s College London found terminally ill cancer patients who died at home experienced similar pain levels but more peace in their last week of life compared to dying in hospital. Relatives of more than 350 passed cancer patients took part in the study, which was published in BioMed Central. Half of those died in hospital and half at home.

• Physicists from the University of Sydney have devised a way to make nanoscale, synthetic diamonds light up inside a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine and act as a beacon for cancer. Diamonds on their own do not light up in an MRI scan, but after some manipulation they are able to be detected.

• Vincent Lambert, 38, has been in a persistent vegetative state since a 2008 road accident. The judges said his doctors were within their rights, based on their “professional and moral independence,” to suspend an earlier court decision that would have seen them cut the intravenous food and water keeping Mr Lambert alive. According to Friday’s court ruling, the decision to stop intravenous feeding can be undertaken “solely by the doctor in charge of care.” The hospital may not oppose it.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-10-11/dying-at-home-more-peaceful-than-in-hospital-study-finds/6844746

Dying in the comfort of your own home may result in a more peaceful death, with similar pain to being in hospital and less intense grief for loved ones, new research suggests.

The study from Cicely Saunders Institute at King’s College London found terminally ill cancer patients who died at home experienced similar pain levels but more peace in their last week of life compared to dying in hospital.

Relatives of more than 350 passed cancer patients took part in the study, which was published in BioMed Central. Half of those died in hospital and half at home.

Lead author Barbara Gomes said patients often feared being at home, believing they were placing a burden on their family.

“However, we found that grief was actually less intense for relatives of people who died at home,” she said.

Dr Gomes said it was encouraging the research also showed pain levels were similar.

“Many people with cancer justifiably fear pain. So it is encouraging that we observed patients dying at home did not experience greater pain than those in hospitals where access to pain relieving drugs may be more plentiful,” she said.

Prior research shows home deaths have declined and hospital and residential care deaths have increased, but most people would prefer to die at home.

The study concluded that as most people wished to die at home, and that is was a better experience, “discussion of preferences, GP home visits, and relatives to be given time off work” were required to make the goal realistic.

Australians’ reluctance to discuss death, narrow conversations with health professionals and lack of community services make it hard for people to die at home, Grattan Institute’s Professor Hal Swerissen said.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-10-10/diamonds-could-help-detect-early-stage-cancers/6844212

Diamonds could play a vital role in helping to detect cancers in their earliest stages, new research shows.

Physicists from the University of Sydney have devised a way to make nanoscale, synthetic diamonds light up inside a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine and act as a beacon for cancer.

Diamonds on their own do not light up in an MRI scan, but after some manipulation they are able to be detected.

“We’ve magnetised the atoms within the nano-diamond and this makes them light up on an MRI scan,” lead author Ewa Rej said.

The manipulated diamonds are then attached to specific chemicals that are known to target cancers.

The diamonds are injected into the body and tracked as they move through the patient’s system.

If cancer is present, the chemicals will be attracted to the site and the attached diamonds will provide a “lighthouse” on the MRI scan.

Researchers want to use their discovery to target cancers that are hard to detect in their early stage, such as brain and pancreatic cancers, before they are life threatening.

Cancer Australia chief executive Helen Zorbas welcomed the development.

In the coming weeks, the researchers will start to test the new technology on mice.

But it will take several more years before it can be used on humans.

Although using diamonds may seem expensive, researchers said the synthetic particles are relatively cheap.

The researchers next want to use the same technology using scorpion venom to target brain tumours with MRI scanning.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-10-10/court-upholds-decision-to-keep-brain-damaged-frenchman-alive/6843454

A French court has upheld a hospital’s decision to keep a brain-damaged man alive, in a case that has divided his family.

Vincent Lambert, 38, has been in a persistent vegetative state since a 2008 road accident.

The judges said his doctors were within their rights, based on their “professional and moral independence,” to suspend an earlier court decision that would have seen them cut the intravenous food and water keeping Mr Lambert alive.

The decision by the court in … northern France, is the latest twist in a protracted legal battle that has pitted the family members of Mr Lambert against each other.

On one side is Mr Lambert’s wife Rachel, his nephew Francois, and six of his siblings — who say the former psychiatric nurse would never have wanted to be kept alive artificially.

On the other stand his devout Catholic parents who insist on keeping Mr Lambert alive. His mother Viviane believes her son would improve with better care.

The European Court of Human Rights had in June backed an earlier decision by a French court to allow Mr Lambert to be taken off life support.

That ruling, by the French supreme administrative court known as the State Council, was decided following an examination by court-appointed experts who ruled Mr Lambert was in an irreversible vegetative state.

But his parents and two siblings appealed to the Strasbourg-based European court in a desperate bid to stop doctors from withdrawing intravenous feeding after exhausting their legal options in France.

The European court agreed that the French court decision did not violate European rights laws.
According to Friday’s court ruling, the decision to stop intravenous feeding can be undertaken “solely by the doctor in charge of care.” The hospital may not oppose it.

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