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August 21, 1967

The Patient With a Fatal Illness— To Tell or Not to Tell

JAMA. 1967;201(8):646-648. doi:10.1001/jama.1967.03130080088047

A 62-year-old man has carcinoma of the lung with widespread metastases. His wife and 20-year-old son who is now in college know the diagnosis, but the patient has not been told. What are your guidelines for "telling" or "not telling"? Would it be helpful if the clergyman of the family were told of the entire scientific background by the physician or should this information reach the clergyman via the family?