How to deal with delirium in cancer patients

David Currow, BMed, PhD, MPH, FRACP, FAChPM, FAHMS, GAICD of Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia, discusses delirium in cancer patients. Patients, who are acutely unwell are at a much higher risk of being acutely confused. This is observed more frequently late in life, however, all patients being treated for cancer or living with the disease are at a greater risk than the population at large. A high index of suspicion is needed when people’s cognition changes. The majority of patients experience a hyperactive delirium, but hypoactive delirium can also occur. Vivid recollections of delirium, including hallucinations are common. Dr Currow highlights the importance of treating infections, and metabolic changes, as many of the causes can be reversed. Urinary tract infections in patients treated with chemotherapy may cause neutropenia and should be treated early and aggressively to create a supportive environment for patients experiencing symptoms like hallucinations. Dr Currow mentions that the bottom line for delirium is having index of suspicion, and thinking about patients who are very sick and at a higher risk of delirium. Recorded at the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer (MASCC) and International Society of Ocular Oncology (ISOO) 2016 Annual Meeting on Supportive Care in Cancer held in Adelaide, Australia.

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