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October 2017

Having a Conversation With a Patient With Incurable Cancer—Just Another Protocol?

Author Affiliations
  • 1Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital, Department of Medical Oncology, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  • 2Netherlands Comprehensive Cancer Organisation, Utrecht, the Netherlands
JAMA Oncol. 2017;3(10):1305-1306. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2016.6776

Seriously ill patients with cancer value frank discussions with their physicians. Physicians themselves, however, often experience difficulties speaking with patients about a prognosis, death, goals of end-of-life treatment, abstaining from potentially life-prolonging treatment, and spirituality. Reasons physicians disregard these topics include difficulties estimating a patient’s life expectancy, fear of decreasing a patient’s hope, and confronting the eventuality of life. These reasons, among others, have resulted in an attempt to formalize and structure conversations with patients with incurable cancer.