Oncologists must promote informed decision-making for cancer patients

A significant number of advanced cancer patients are not aware of basic details of their illness or treatments, according to a study from Weill Cornell Medical College that was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The study team compared a group of patients' understanding of their condition before and after undergoing scans and discussing results with their doctors. Before the scans, just nine of 178 studied patients knew they had terminal cancer and months to live. In a post announcing the study, Holly G. Prigerson, Ph.D., one of its authors and the co-director of the Center for Research on End-of-Life Care at Weill, said that the patients who did not know the basics about their cancer diagnosis could not make informed decisions about their care. "The results of this study show that when advanced cancer patients reported having recently discussed their life-expectancy with their oncologist, their illness understanding improved significantly," she said in the announcement. "That information may also help patients prioritize how they wish to spend the last few months of their lives." Abstract