It is well known that palliative care is a necessity in cancer patients, as early on as the time of diagnosis. Palliative care for cancer patients is rather new in Iran and has a history of less than 8 years.
Here we give an overview on the status of palliative care in Iran. We also present the demographics of our patients in the largest palliative care unit over the last two years.
Iran has a population of around 80 million people and, according to the official cancer registry, a yearly cancer incidence of around 100 thousand. We currently have around 8 active palliative care units for cancer patients and one palliative care ward in Iran, all run by charities. In these palliative care units, we have oncologists, palliative care specialists, pain specialists, psychologists, spiritual care specialists, social workers and dieticians. A total number of 3677 patients, of whom 3277 (89%) had a cancer diagnosis were referred to our palliative care unit in Firoozgar Hospital, which is run by the Ala Charity, in Tehran in the last two years. 1770 female (54%) and 1457 male (46%) cancer patients were referred. A number of 388 (12%) patients had breast cancer, 339 (10%) had hematologic malignancies, 312 (10%) had esophageal or gastric cancer, 311 (10%) had colorectal cancer, 105 (3%) had a cancer of the CNS, 101 (3%) had lymphoma, 93 (3%) had renal cancer, 87 patients (3%) had ovarian cancer, 81 (2%) had lung cancer, 54 patients (2%) had prostate cancer and 50 (2%) had pancreatic cancer. The other 40% of the cancer patients had either less frequent cancers or their exact cancer site was not recorded.
Iran, like many other countries, needs many more palliative care units. As palliative medicine is not financially lucrative, charities play a major role in setting up, maintaining and expanding these units.
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All authors have declared no conflicts of interest.