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August 17, 1979

Should the Patient Know?

Author Affiliations

American Institute of Stress, Inc New York

JAMA. 1979;242(7):615. doi:10.1001/jama.1979.03300070013005

To the Editor.—  Neither the article by Novack et al (241:897, 1979) nor the accompanying editorial by Emil J Freireich, MD (241:928, 1979), refers to important considerations as to why the patient should be informed of the diagnosis of malignant neoplasms and, more important, the manner in which this information should be imparted. There is increasing evidence attesting to the importance of the patient's active participation in any therapeutic protocol, particularly with respect to carcinoma, and there is a great need for education in this area. The attitude of the public—and to a large extent, the medical profession—toward cancer has been shaped by societal and cultural factors. The diagnosis of cancer is still held in some circles to be a "death sentence," from no doubt many factors, including the fear of disfigurement, constant pain, and social ostracism.There is abundant evidence for this in such euphemisms as "moon children," which