TUESDAY, Jan. 16, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Giving fluids to dying cancer patients may help them live a bit longer, a new British study finds.
"Hydration plays a key role in delaying the dying process," said Dr. Agnieszka Michael, medical director of clinical trials at the University of Surrey in England.
However, "why this is remains unknown," Michael added.
The study included more than 200 cancer patients, aged 28 to 98, in the United Kingdom. The patients were in their last week of life and were unable to take in sufficient fluids on their own.
Those who received fluids either directly into a vein or under the skin lived an average of 1.5 days longer than those who did not receive fluids, according to the study.
The team plans to continue its research. "The results from this will help improve quality in end-of-life care," Michael said in a university news release.
"Hydration of dying patients in palliative care delivers the gift of time. However, this is not a gift that all patients and their families desire," Michael added.
It's a contentious issue, said Andrew Davies, a consultant in palliative medicine at Royal Surrey County Hospital.
But one extra day can make a world of difference to some patients, he said.
"For some patients and their families, living an extra day or so may be extremely important, as it can give them an opportunity to say their goodbyes, have family arrive from abroad, write a will or even get married," Davies explained.
The study was published online recently in the Journal of Palliative Medicine.
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more on end-of-life care.