News Headlines Article

Cancer Patients And Doctors Struggle To Predict Survival
National Public Radio

When a doctor tells a patient that she has cancer and has just a year left to live, that patient often hears very little afterward. It’s as though the physician said “cancer” and then “blah, blah, blah.”

Anxiety makes it difficult to remember details – and the worse the prognosis, the less the patient tends to remember. Recent studies have found that cancer patients retain less than half of what their doctors tell them.

So it’s not surprising, perhaps, that a patient with advanced cancer can leave her oncology appointment thinking she has a set amount of time left to live. “The doctor gave me a year,” she’ll say, as though she were a half-gallon of milk with a “sell-by” date printed on her head.