Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Guideline for the management of terminal haemorrhage in palliative care patients with advanced cancer discharged home for end-of-life care
  1. Edith Ubogagu1 and
  2. Dylan G Harris2
  1. 1St Raphael's Hospice, Cheam, Sutton, Surrey
  2. 2Palliative Care Department, Prince Charles Hospital, Merthyr Tydfil, Cwm Taf, UK
  1. Correspondence to Edith Ubogagu, St Raphael's Hospice, Heam, Surrey, UK eau00{at}


Objective Terminal haemorrhage is a rare and distressing emergency in palliative oncology. We present an algorithm for the management of terminal haemorrhage in patients likely to receive end-of-life care at home, based on a literature review of the management of terminal haemorrhage for patients with advanced cancer, where a DNAR (do not attempt resuscitation) order is in place and the patient wishes to die at home.

Method A literature review was conducted to identify literature on the management of terminal haemorrhage in patients with advanced cancer who are no longer amenable to active interventional/invasive procedures. Electronic databases, the grey literature, local guidelines from hospitals and hospices, and online web portals were all searched systematically. The literature review was used to formulate a management algorithm.

Results The evidence base is very limited. A three-step practical algorithm is suggested: preparing for the event, managing the event (‘ABC’) and ‘aftercare’. Step 1 involves the identification and optimisation of risk factors. Step 2 (the event) consists of A (assure and re-assure the patient), B (be there – above all stay with the patient) and C (comfort, calm, consider dark towels and anxiolytics if possible). Step 3 (the aftercare) involves the provision of practical and psychological support to those involved including relatives and professionals.

Conclusion Terminal haemorrhage is a rare yet highly feared complication of advanced cancer, for which there is a limited evidence base to guide management. The suggested three-step approach to managing this situation gives professionals a logical framework within which to work.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed