International Psychogeriatrics

Letter

Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide in Huntington's disease in The Netherlands

Suzanne J. Booija1, Dick P. Engbertsa2, Aad Tibbena3 and Raymund A. C. Roosa1

a1 Department of Neurology, Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC), Leiden, The Netherlands Email: s.j.booij@lumc.nl

a2 Section of Medical Ethics and Health Law, Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC), Leiden, The Netherlands

a3 Section for Genetic Counselling, Centre for Human and Clinical Genetics, Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC), Leiden, the Netherlands

Huntington's disease (HD) is a progressive autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disease characterized by chorea, hypokinesia, psychiatric symptoms, and dementia. The age of onset is usually between 30 and 50 years; the duration of illness is from 10–20 years. The rate of suicide in patients is higher than in the general population and is the second most common cause of death in HD after pneumonia (Bindler et al., 2009). Currently, symptomatic treatment is available, but there is no cure. The identification of HD-gene in 1993 made DNA testing possible in individuals at risk.