Published: Wednesday 15 August 2001

Many cancer patients receive chemotherapy at the end of life, even if their kind of cancer is known to be unresponsive to the drugs, according to a study reported at the recent annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncologists held in San Francisco. "Many are concerned with the quality of end of life care and specifically that patients should not be overtreated with ineffective therapies that won't improve their quality of life," says Ezekiel Emanuel, chairman of the department of clinical bioethics at the US National Institutes of Health ( BMJ , No 7297).

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