Doctors Urged to Speak Sooner with Advanced-Cancer Patients

January 31, 2011


WHYY Radio reports that the American Society of Clinical Oncology now recommends that the medical community start conversations sooner about what choices are available. Joseph Straton, MD, chief medical officer of Penn Wissahickon Hospice, said the new recommendations are right on target. Often physicians focus on beating the cancer, he said, but when treatments aren't working, there needs to be another plan. "We just tell them about the treatment, what they could get, and we might tell them about the benefits of the treatment, he said. "But we might not tell them what some of the downsides of the treatment are and how the treatment itself may get in the way of their quality of life." Doctors agree that aggressive treatments to beat the cancer shouldn't be ruled out. It should be the patient's choice, they said. But when dealing with an incurable cancer, they said information should be provided for the patient to make the best decision. Read More