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‘Serious suffering’ at end-of-life to soar in high income countries

Cancer and dementia set to fuel demand for palliative care

The number of people in high income countries dying with ‘serious health-related suffering’ is predicted to increase by more than 50% by 2060, eaccording to a new study.

Cancer and dementia look set to be behind the rise in the number of people needing palliative care in most countries globally, the research shows.

Researchers found that the number of people dying with palliative care needs globally was set to almost double over the next four decades.

By 2060, an estimated 48 million people each year would die with serious health-related suffering, around 47% of all deaths, and an 87% increase compared to 2016.

While most of these people would be in low and middle income countries, high income countries like the UK would also be affected, the study shows.

In high income countries, three million more people would die with serious health-related suffering in 2060, an increase of 57% compared to 2016 – from around five million to around eight million.

Lead author, Dr Katherine Sleeman, honorary consultant in palliative medicine at the Cicely Saunders Institute at King’s College London, said: “The number of people dying with serious health-related suffering in high income countries [for example the UK] will increase by 57% between 2016 and 2060.

“This means that in high income countries, for every 100 people dying today with palliative care needs, by 2060 there will be more than 150.

“Cancer and dementia will be the main drivers of this increase.”

Dr Sleeman said that in light of the projected increase in the number of people dying with serious health-related suffering, provision of high quality palliative care services should be a “policy priority”.

The research is published in The Lancet Global Health.