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When Is It Time to Call Hospice for Cancer?

when is it time to call hospice for cancer?

Despite our best efforts, there will come a time when some patients may require hospice for cancer. This type of palliative care is a compassionate choice, and it’s one that more families are turning to as they become aware of its many benefits. Unlike other medical care, hospice does not focus on curative treatments. Instead, it focuses on increasing the patient’s quality of life. If your loved one has cancer and things aren’t looking good, it may be time to start hospice care. Stopping cancer treatment and beginning end-of-life care doesn’t mean giving up. It means the patient is unable to continue treatment or they are simply ready to focus on making the most of their remaining time.

If you have questions about hospice,
call us at (702) 509-5276 or contact us online.

When the Oncologist Says No More Chemo…

Hospice isn’t the only choice when the oncologist says it’s time to stop chemo. Here are some alternatives to consider if you’d like to explore other options first or in addition to hospice.

  • Acupuncture
  • Meditation
  • Hypnosis
  • Massage
  • Aromatherapy
  • Tai Chi
  • Yoga
  • Music Therapy
  • Art Therapy
  • Guided Relaxation

When Is It Time to Call Hospice for Cancer?

It is time to consider hospice care if:

  • The patient’s cancer treatment is not working or is not likely to work.
  • Curative treatments are no longer an option.
  • Your oncologist has given a prognosis of six months.

Life Expectancy When Chemo Stops Working

What is your life expectancy once chemo stops working? This is a common question, and it’s one that concerns patients and their families for a variety of reasons. When a cancer patient is approaching the end of their life, there are many details that will need to be considered. Families may have important religious rites to perform, and sometimes travel arrangements must be made.

Many different factors will determine how much time a patient has left, and this is true for any of us whether we have cancer or not. The type of cancer, the stage of the cancer when it was first diagnosed, the treatment a patient has received, the patient’s physical and emotional health, and the specific type of cancer will all play roles when it comes to how much time someone has to live.

The Process for Starting Hospice for a Cancer Patient

When the treatment is only delaying the inevitable and a patient and their physician decide it is no longer a viable option, it may be time to start hospice. The process begins when the doctor writes the order for hospice. At this time, the hospice will evaluate the patient for admission, and they will create a unique care plan that takes the patient’s individual needs into consideration.

How Long Does a Cancer Patient Typically Live in Hospice?

Hospice starts when doctors estimate a patient has six months to live. You may have less time or even much more time than this estimate. Entering hospice care does not mean they only have six months to live, and if they live longer, they are welcome to continue hospice care as long as they qualify. Everyone is different, and with no way of accurately predicting the future; any prognosis is still just an estimate.

Dying Symptoms or Signs of Deterioration in Cancer Patients

Toward the end of a cancer patient’s life, there are certain signs that are often a sign that death will happen within three days. These can include:

  • Changes in elimination, such as decreased or dark urine
  • Changes in breathing, especially grunting
  • Difficulty closing eyelids and pupils that don’t enlarge
  • Cool extremities and mottled skin
  • Dry mouth and decreased hunger and thirst
  • Mucus and secretions that may cause a rattling sound
  • Sleepiness, confusion, or anxiety

Related: End of Life Timeline: Signs & Symptoms of the Dying Process


There is no one right time for starting hospice, but sooner is better than later, and there are specially trained counselors who are there to help. It is understandable that to many the thought of entering hospice care may be uncomfortable, but for many this is the most desirable option. Hospice increases the quality of the patient’s life through pain management while also reducing discomfort from side-effects. The main objective of hospice is to make your loved one comfortable, and that is something any of us can agree is crucial during a time when every moment counts for so much.

Download Omni Home Hospice Care Guide