Expressed wishes and incidence of euthanasia in advanced lung cancer patients

Koen Pardon, Reginald Deschepper, R. Vander Stichele, Jean Bernheim, F. Mortier, Denis Schallier, P. Germonpre, D. Galdermans, W. Van Kerckhoven, Luc Deliens

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14 Citations (Scopus)


This study explores expressed wishes and requests for euthanasia (i.e. administration of lethal drugs at the explicit request of the patient), and incidence of end-of-life decisions with possible life-shortening effects (ELDs) in advanced lung cancer patients in Flanders, Belgium. We performed a prospective, longitudinal, observational study of a consecutive sample of advanced lung cancer patients and selected those who died within 18 months of diagnosis. Immediately after death, the pulmonologist/oncologist and general practitioner (GP) of the patient filled in a questionnaire. Information was available for 105 out of 115 deaths. According to the specialist or GP, one in five patients had expressed a wish for euthanasia; and three in four of these had made an explicit and repeated request. One in two of these received euthanasia. Of the patients who had expressed a wish for euthanasia but had not made an explicit and repeated request, none received euthanasia. Patients with a palliative treatment goal at inclusion were more likely to receive euthanasia. Death was preceded by an ELD in 62.9% of patients. To conclude, advanced lung cancer patients who expressed a euthanasia wish were often determined. Euthanasia was performed significantly more among patients whose treatment goal after diagnosis was exclusively palliative.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)949-956
Number of pages9
JournalEur Respir J
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • palliative care
  • End-of-life decisions
  • nonsmall cell lung cancer


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