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Many Docs Deliver Cancer Diagnosis Badly: Study
Date:7/7/2010

a leukemia diagnosis, the report indicated.

But the study concludes that "too many physicians are either unaware of or not practicing good communication skills in such bad news circumstances."

Figg and Lichtenfeld said doctors sometimes conveyed serious diagnoses in impersonal ways because they lacked long-term relationships with their patients.

"That doesn't excuse the behavior," said Lichtenfeld. Doctors are "losing that sensitivity in our training," and the problem is "ingrained in the culture" of the profession, he added.

Most doctors "want to help their patients, to heal them, to cure them, but some of our colleagues are not doing what they need to do," Lichtenfeld said.

More training is needed to help doctors learn the best ways to deliver bad news, he suggested.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute can help you understand your cancer prognosis.

SOURCES: J. Leonard Lichtenfeld, M.D., deputy chief medical officer, American Cancer Society, Atlanta; William D. Figg, M.D., senior investigator, U.S. National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Md.; July 6, 2010, Journal of Clinical Oncology, online


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