End-of-Life Care in Latin America

J Glob Oncol. 2016 Aug 24;3(3):261-270. doi: 10.1200/JGO.2016.005579. eCollection 2017 Jun.


Cancer has become a global pandemic with disproportionately higher mortality rates in low- and middle- income countries, where a large fraction of patients present in advanced stages and in need of end-of-life care. Globally, the number of adults needing end-of-life care is greater than 19 million, and up to 78% of these patients are living in low- and middle- income countries. In the Americas alone, more than one million people are in need of end-of-life care, placing an enormous burden on local health systems, which are often unprepared to meet the challenge presented by this complex patient population. In Latin America, cancer care is characterized by the presence of vast inequalities between and within countries, and the provision of end-of-life care is no exception. Disparities in access to advanced care planning, with a lack of provision of adequate palliative care and pain medication, are common in the region. These shortcomings are related in large part to inadequate or inappropriate legislation, lack of comprehensive national palliative care plans, insufficient infrastructure, lack of opportunities for clinical training, unreliable reporting of data, and cultural barriers. This report reviews the current status of end-of-life care in Latin America, focusing on identifying existing deficiencies and providing a framework for improvement.

Publication types

  • Review