Terminal Illness Information

Terminal illness is a medical term popularized in the 20th century to describe an active and malignant disease that cannot be cured or adequately treated and that is reasonably expected to result in the death of the patient. This term is more commonly used for progressive diseases such as cancer or advanced heart disease than for trauma. In popular use, it indicates a disease which will end the life of the sufferer.

A patient who has such an illness may be referred to as a terminal patient or terminally ill. Often, a patient is considered to be terminally ill when the life expectancy is estimated to be six months or less, under the assumption that the disease will run its normal course. The six-month standard is arbitrary, and best available estimates of longevity may be incorrect. Consequently, though a given patient may properly be considered terminal, this is not a guarantee that the patient will die within six months. Similarly, a patient with a slowly progressing disease, such as AIDS, may not be considered terminally ill because the best estimates of longevity were greater than six months. However this does not guarantee that the patient will not die unexpectedly early. In general, physicians slightly overestimate survival so that, for example, a person who is expected to live for about six weeks would likely die around four weeks.

Each patient reacts differently to the news of carrying a terminal illness such as cancer. In general, almost all patients go through various stages of acceptance when a disease like cancer has been diagnosed.

Wikipedia, Terminal Illness, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terminal_Illness (as of May 18, 2010)

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