Telling Patients They Have Cancer


Prostate Cancer pic

A hematology and an oncology physician at Optimum Oncology Hematology Associates, Matthew Taub, MD, leverages more than 20 years of medical experience to treat benign and malignant disorders in patients. Over the course of his career, Dr. Matthew Taub has developed a reputation among patients for being a compassionate and an altruistic physician.

One of the most significant moments of a patient’s life is hearing that he or she has cancer. Because of this, the way physicians deliver a cancer diagnosis is extremely important. Yet, only around 10 percent of physicians receive specific training for sharing a cancer diagnosis.

According to research, most patients would prefer receiving their cancer diagnosis at their physician’s office. Despite this preference, only about half of all patients receive their diagnosis in this setting. Roughly 18 percent are told over the phone, and another 28 percent are informed in a hospital. However, hearing the news in a physician’s office isn’t preferable to everyone. Because of this, physicians may want to ask their patients directly how they would prefer to receive bad news if their biopsy reveals cancer.

When sharing the actual news of cancer, physicians must be clear with patients by avoiding medical jargon, such as malignancy. Although there is often a desire to avoid the word “cancer,” it is frequently the best way to discuss a cancer diagnosis with patients since it leaves no room for misinterpretation. At the same time, physicians shouldn’t be too blunt, but focus instead of a patient-centered approach to sharing the news. This approach conveys hope to patients while giving them honest information about their diagnosis and connecting with them emotionally.

Finally, physicians must discuss treatment plans for their patients. This gives patients more hope about their future since it provides them with a clear pathway through this difficult time of their life. If physicians are uncertain about treatment options since they depend on the prognosis of a different specialist, they should be upfront about it. There’s no harm in telling patients that another physician can provide more details about the best course of treatment.