Patients, Doctors May Not See Eye-to-Eye About Cancer Prognosis: Study

Posted by The Prostate Seed Institute on September 27th, 2017

Men who are diagnosed with advanced cancer may not see eye-to-eye with their doctors about their prognosis. A large disparity in perceptions, in fact, was found during a recent study on the topic. The aim of the study was to look into the quality of communication between doctors and their patients. Although performed on a small scale, the study sheds light on the need for improved communication.

The study in question involved more than 230 patients and nearly 40 oncologists. All members of the patient group had been diagnosed with advanced cancer. Patients and their doctors were both asked to rate patient’s odds of a 2-year survival. If a patient’s answer differed from the doctor’s, the patient was asked to guess the doctor’s prediction. Researchers ultimately found that nearly 68 percent of the patients had different views on survival than their doctors. The disparity was higher, 95 percent, among African American patients. For Caucasian patients, the disparity showed up at the 68 percent rate. A patient’s level of education did not seem to impact the results, researchers noted.

The study casts a bright spotlight on a potential lack of communication between patients diagnosed with advanced cancer and their doctors. While researchers did not offer insights about how to bridge the gap, other similar studies have pointed to steps patients can take to ensure they have a strong understanding of their prognosis, recommended treatments, potential side effects and other important cancer-related concerns. The measures recommended include:

  • Writing down questions before going in for medical appointments – When any form or stage of cancer is diagnosed, patients will have many questions. Unfortunately, they may forget to ask them all during medical appointments. Creating a list in advance and then asking the questions can ensure all issues are addressed.
  • Asking for help interpreting test results –Patients diagnosed with advanced cancer will undergo many different tests. It can be very important to ask for clarification when results come in. Some larger oncology practices may have patient care coordinators available to provide patient education, help interpreting test results and ongoing support. If this service is offered, take advantage of it. If it is not, patients can and should ask their doctors for any required clarifications.

A diagnosis of advanced cancer can be overwhelming. For patients, however, it is critical to have a strong understanding of prognosis and what benefits any interventions may have. Patients can help themselves by asking questions and making sure they understand the answers. Doctors, too, can assist by ensuring patients have access to the information they need to make informed decisions.

About Author

Dr. Echt and his team at the Prostate Seed Institute offer the most highly sophisticated methods of radiation therapy available in the United States, equal to that found in major medical center and academic settings. These include prostate seed implantation, high dose radiation implants, and external beam radiation with image-guided and intensity-modulated (IGRT and IMRT) capabilities.


The Prostate Seed Institute

About the Author

The Prostate Seed Institute
Joined: July 24th, 2017
Articles Posted: 3

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