Do Oncologists Lie to Their Patients About Their Prognoses?

Andrews was easily the most anxious patient I took care of that month, a gray Michigan February (is there any other kind?) which I spent in the hospital caring for patients admitted to the general medical ward at the Ann Arbor Veterans Affairs Medical Center. (Andrews is a pseudonym, as are all the patients I blog about, unless otherwise indicated.)  He had plenty to be anxious about, too.   His leukemia was raging out of control, his blood looking like pus, teeming as it was with malignant white blood cells.  At his age—he was almost 60—and after a decade of chronic bone marrow cancer, his disease was especially dangerous.  Odds were high he would survive for less than a year.

Unless . . . ! Unless the genetics of his cancer were favorable, indicating a good likelihood that he would respond to chemotherapy.  So Andrews and I (and the rest of my general medicine team) waited to hear back from the oncologists about the result of his genetic studies.

Andrews wasn’t afraid of dying, because he’d already had a first-hand view of death at its worst. Twenty years earlier, he was working as a card dealer in Vegas and had fallen in love with another dealer.  In the open-minded culture of that city… (Read more and view comments at Forbes)

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