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To the Editor:—
I have read many articles on whether to inform a patient he has cancer, but most seem to miss the point. In my opinion the patient with a possibly curable cancer should almost always be told in order to make him understand the reason for treatment, which often causes considerable discomfort. No one knows how he will react to a given situation beforehand. Conclusions based on questionnaires inquiring how one would wish to behave under a hypothetical situation are not valid. The only real problem is in the situation where the malignant disease is hopeless. I have almost always found that if I wait the patient will never ask me "Do I have a cancer?" If he does, I answer him honestly, but most of these people have a good idea of what is causing their illness and do not wish to have us close the door.
Stanley JR. THE CANCER PATIENT. JAMA. 1955;159(13):1327. doi:10.1001/jama.1955.02960300073025