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A Piece of My Mind
August 25, 2010


Author Affiliations

A Piece of My Mind Section Editor: Roxanne K. Young, Associate Senior Editor.

JAMA. 2010;304(8):835. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1204

A friend once told me that giving false hope is cruel. But isn't it the only thing with which we can comfort our patients, when we cannot do anything to cure them?

How can you tell a patient with metastatic renal cell carcinoma that she will get better, when every day the cancer is spreading and devouring every organ; when every day you see new lesions on her chest radiograph; when the tumor has involved and fractured some of her bones; when the chemotherapy you are giving her is causing every adverse effect it possibly can, including severe mucositis and Stevens-Johnson syndrome? How can you tell her that the large mass occupying her abdomen, which is not surgically resectable, is miraculously going to go away?

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