Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Pregnancy

Font Size

One Last Summer

A Day of Reckoning

A New Area of Medicine That Needs Exploring continued...

Even so, cancer remains the No. 2 killer of children, behind shootings and other accidents. According to the National Cancer Institute, 12,400 children are diagnosed with cancer every year. In 1998, 2,500 children died of all forms.

Nationwide, only a handful of hospitals offer palliative care programs for children. Last year, Congress appropriated $1 million to five pilot hospice programs for children with life-threatening conditions.

According to Wolfe, palliative measures range from pain-relieving drugs such as morphine to anti-inflammatory medications and low-dose antidepressants (which can ease muscle and joint pain); to nutrition counseling to counter anemia and fatigue; to oral chemotherapy drugs that can be taken at home and may extend life, but are gentler on a child's immune system and cause limited nausea (unlike more intensive intravenous chemotherapy); to oxygen and morphine to ease shortness of breath.

Psychological help also is important, says Mary Sormanti, PhD, an associate professor of social work at Columbia University, who has worked extensively with dying children.

Guided imagery, visualization, and hypnosis can help them withstand pain and overcome "anticipatory nausea," or vomiting prior to chemotherapy, Sormanti says. Even simply reading a book aloud can distract a child during painful procedures, such as a spinal tap.

Psychosocial workers also can help parents accept the unthinkable: that their children may die. In the JAMA study, families with access to psychosocial workers were more likely to recognize that their children could not be cured, whereas parents who spoke only to physicians often came away from the conversations unaware that their children were considered terminally ill.

How Palliative Care Can Make a Difference

In Gabe Catalfo's case, palliative measures helped ease a difficult passage.

During his last two weeks, a hospice nurse visited Gabe at home. He got a backpack-sized device that allowed him to self-administer doses of the powerful pain reliever fentanyl at will. Blood transfusions were performed at home. Phil Catalfo even arranged for a Tibetan lama to visit and soothe Gabe's spirit.

Eventually, Gabe grew weaker, stopped eating, and started drifting in and out of consciousness. It was a heartbreaking time, and yet his father describes Gabe's death as peaceful, the two of them holding hands one evening as Gabe lay on the sofa.

Pregnancy Week-By-Week Newsletter

Delivered right to your inbox, get pictures and facts on
what to expect each week of your pregnancy.

Today on WebMD

hand circling date on calendar
Track your most fertile days.
woman looking at ultrasound
Week-by-week pregnancy guide.
Pretty pregnant woman timing contaction pains
The signs to watch out for.
pregnant woman in hospital
Are there ways to do it naturally?
slideshow fetal development
pregnancy first trimester warning signs
What Causes Bipolar
Woman trying on dress in store
pregnant woman
Close up on eyes of baby breastfeeding
healthtool pregnancy calendar
eddleman prepare your body pregnancy