“It is very unfortunate to be looking at a jaundiced 85-year-old with metastatic cancer for whom there has been no conversation at all about end-of-life,” said Lillie D. Shockney, RN, BS, MAS, Distinguished Service Associate Professor of Surgery, Oncology, Gynecology, and Obstetrics at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.
“The best care engages patients—at the level of their story, their values, their families—in ways that amplify their resilience,” added Anthony Back, MD, Professor of Medicine and Adjunct Professor in the Division of Bioethics and Humanities at the University of Washington School of Medicine, and Director of the Program on Cancer Communication at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance in Seattle, Washington.
Dr. Back and Ms. Shockney discussed the challenge of talking with patients with advanced cancer and suggested ways in which such conversations can facilitate decision-making and enhance quality of life. This task requires providers to be open yet delicate with patient and respectful of their choices. It is often a task that is handled poorly, and at times, not handled at all, they said.
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