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Lifespan guide for terminal cancer

Terminally ill cancer patients have the chance of better gauging how long they have left to live through the publication of a new guide.

Offering lifespan predictions based on the pulse rate, white blood cell count, blood tests and specific symptoms of the patient, the scale is said to be just as accurate as any estimate given by a doctor.

The guide, funded by Cancer Research UK, may help families and health staff better plan the care needed for the end of a person's life.

Dr Paddy Stone, lead study author based at St George's, University of London, said: "It is important to remember that these results do not provide a definitive model for predicting how long someone will live but it will give everyone concerned a clearer idea of what is likely to happen.

"This study provides a solid starting point for improving accuracy in survival predictions which can continue to be refined and improved."

Mike Hobday, head of campaigns at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: "This scale could prove useful to patients, families and clinicians who are wondering whether to begin discussions around palliative care arrangements.

"All too often this conversation is left until it is too late to make arrangements while patients wait to know what their future is.

"Having the conversation at an earlier point, alongside ensuring a 24-hour community nursing service is in place will vastly improve the chances of the 57% of people with a cancer diagnosis who want to die at home being able to do so."

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