Physicians and Patients Make Best Decisions Together

Imagine yourself in this patient’s situation. You have just found out you have cancer, and the next phrase out of your doctor’s mouth is “You’re going to die with this cancer rather than of this cancer.” Which word do you think will jump out of that sentence? “With”? “Of”?

My money is on “die.” – Modified from Critical Decisions, pg. 99

In Critical Decisions, Peter Ubel describes a common situation of a urologist explaining a prostate cancer diagnosis to a patient. In this exam room, the physician and the patient are on two different wavelengths. The doctor is trying to assuage the fears of the patient but is emphasizing technical details about the patient’s condition without first relating to the patient’s emotional shock from hearing a cancer diagnosis. Ubel suggests even a small acknowledgement of the patient’s emotional state could improve the situation. For instance, saying “I know it feels awful to be told you have cancer, but you should know that your cancer is curable. We can treat this.” (Critical Decisions, pg. 100)… (Read more and view comments at Duke Research Blog)


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