Communication and value in the management of prostate cancer


When your sitemaster speaks to the assembled audience  at the annual meeting of ASTRO this coming Sunday, one point he intends to make relates to the importance and value of clear, straightforward, high-quality communication between physicians and patients.

With that in mind, he was delighted, today, to see an article on the web site of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle, WA, entitled “Cancer communication breakdown” (by Diane Mapes, a breast cancer patient and an employee of “The Hutch”).

Obviously, this article is not specific to prostate cancer, but the points made by Ms. Mapes are as relevant to communications between doctors and patients about prostate cancer as they are to communications about breast cancer or any other form of cancer. This is an article that every cancer patient advocate and educator should be aware of … and, bluntly, so should every clinician who talks with patients about their cancer and their care — prostate cancer absolutely included.

3 Responses

  1. IMHO the reason doctors aren’t more transparent is simply that they don’t want to scare their prospective patients away from treatment. No one likes to hear bad news. And new cancer patients are already scared stiff. I think there should be a standardized brochure approved by all the national cancer associations which spells out what patients can expect from the various treatments in terms of outcomes and side effects.

  2. It’s articles like this that put us advocates and navigators out of business ….. and a good thing that is too!!

    Good luck with your address, Sitemaster.

  3. Time with the Doctor

    The article contained good advice; new patients need to get advice like this as soon as possible.

    However, one great consideration not emphasized in the article is the amount of time available with the doctor (and his/her staff). I’ve had two doctors who were superb in being available for the time I needed, which was a lot more than 15 minutes or even 30 at the beginning and at key points. However, many of my interactions with health professionals have been on the overly short side, leaving me with questions unanswered or insufficiently answered, despite working with an agenda, triaged ahead of time, often showing it to the doctor up front. Patient portals that allow message exchanges can help if doctors have the time to use them.

    I’m not sure how to fix this problem, and I expect we volunteer fellow-patient navigators/educators will not be lacking in work for some time to come.

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