In a recent survey made by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, 70% of the respondents revealed that they do not want to undergo further medical management should they become diagnosed with terminal cancer or dementia. Samples of terminal care management mentioned in the survey were having gastrostomy and artificial respiration.
The respondents, who were at least 20 years old from both sexes, were asked for their preference of having or not having terminal care management, specifically referring to gastrostomy and artificial respiration. Among the respondents, 61% expressed approval for having drip infusion as alternative nutritional administration, but 72% said that they don’t want to undergo gastrostomy if they become terminally ill because of cancer. If diagnosed with dementia where gastrostomy is needed, 47% said they would like to have drip infusion for nutritional management, only 7% less compared to those who do not want to have drip infusion.
Performing gastrostomy may vary on the medical condition of the patient. The procedure, which is literally making an opening in the stomach, may be needed as part of medical care management for patients with terminal cancer. Gastrostomy is performed through surgical operation and only with the patient’s consent. Once an opening is performed, a tube called Gastric or G-Tube is inserted where a feeding or medicine is administered. It can also be used for other purposes like drainage.
There were 5,000 people who received the survey questionnaire but only 2,149 responded, only 44% of the initial survey population. When it came to artificial respiration, 67% disprove the procedure following the diagnosis of terminal cancer while more than 70% said that they do not want to have artificial respiration or gastrostomy should they have dementia.
Artificial respiration is needed when a person requires assistance in order to breathe, which is an involuntary activity under normal circumstances. Until when artificial respiration is needed depends on the body’s ability to perform normal breathing on its own. For some, it may be the last resort to keep biological activities. For those who do, it is still dependent on the patient’s expressed approval. Some refuse to have further medical treatment, which is legally binding especially when they have signed DNR or Do-Not-Resuscitate form or notice. Among the survey’s respondents, 70% support advance notice of documents with regard to terminal care management while 3 percent revealed that they have already done so.