Patients don’t want to hear that they’re dying and doctors don’t want to tell them. But new guidance for the nation’s cancer specialists says they should be upfront and do it far sooner.
The American Society of Clinical Oncology says too often, patients aren’t told about options like comfort care or even that their chemo has become futile until the bitter end.
To help families broach the topic, too, the group developed an easy-to-read booklet about those choices, from standard care to symptom relief, and advice about what to ask to maximize remaining time.
“This is not a 15-minute conversation, and it should not happen in the back of the ambulance on the way to the ICU at 3 in the morning,” says ASCO chief executive Dr. Allen Lichter. “When everyone is well and has their wits about them, it’s time to start the process.”