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Current opinion about antimicrobial therapy in palliative care

an update

Macedo, Filipa; Bonito, Nuno

doi: 10.1097/CCO.0000000000000514
SUPPORTIVE CARE: Edited by Jean A. Klastersky

Purpose of review The review englobes the latest studies published regarding the problem of antimicrobial usage with palliative intent.

Recent findings In the advanced stages of illness like cancer, dementia, or neurodegenerative diseases, important decisions have to be made concerning the global treatment plan. Infections are very common among this kind of patients as they typically have multiple comorbidities and are incapacitated. These infections, in a majority of the cases, will be treated with antimicrobial therapy because this is a standard medical procedure. For a health professional, the decision of whether to treat, withhold, or withdraw a treatment can be difficult. In fact, in palliative care, the challenge is to balance compassionate care for people suffering from end-of-life diseases with the need for responsible antibiotic usage. Antimicrobial treatment could alleviate symptoms from an infection and make patients more comfortable, on the other hand, its overuse of it could bring a broader public health risk.

Summary On the contrary, in 18 months there are few studies about this problem, what reveals no concern about the use of antimicrobians in end-of-life patients.

Medical Oncology Department, Portuguese Oncology Institute of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal

Correspondence to Filipa Macedo, Medical Oncology Department, Portuguese Oncology Institute of Coimbra, Avenida Bissaya Barreto No. 98, 3000-075 Coimbra, Portugal. Tel: +351 916842232; e-mail:

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