Discussing negative prognosis?

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Question from Lorena: I am a Stage III breast cancer survivor. My doctors tell me my time is limited. Do you think doctors should talk that way to me when I am feeling great?
Answers - Jennifer Griggs, M.D., M.P.H. You and your physicians should be able to talk about your disease and your prognosis in a realistic but compassionate way. Whether you have Stage I or Stage IV cancer, if you are feeling good, you should be encouraged to live life fully. If you find that you and your doctor are not able to talk comfortably about the cancer, you should bring this up with him/her.

Sometimes physicians think patients haven't been told what we consider 'the truth.' We sometimes feel it's our responsibility to make sure that patients know the statistics and how to prepare. On the other hand, if you feel you have been fully informed, you should be encouraged to view your disease and your life in a way that most fits your own style and values.
Marisa Weiss, M.D. If you are feeling well and you are living your life, then you are choosing life, whatever amount of time you may have. That's true whether you decide to continue treatment, or stop treatment. There are a number of people, for example, who have Stage IV breast cancer (metastatic disease), that have chosen to go off treatment. If they are feeling well, they are choosing to live in a way that gives them the best quality of life.

As you move along, making various decisions, it's important to know that you can always re-evaluate those decisions. That's one of the reasons you see your doctors on a regular basis. A decision you made in the past may change with future visits. But all along the way, it's important to promote the quality of your life, and your doctor should help you embrace the goodness and joy that you can experience, despite the reality of the disease.
Jennifer Griggs, M.D., M.P.H. I've seen many patients whose doctors told them they had limited time several years ago, and it turns out that the doctor has since died...

The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called The Doctor-Patient Relationship featured Jennifer Griggs, M.D., M.P.H. and Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions about how to find the right doctor for you, and how to create and maintain a good, open relationship with your doctor so you can be sure to get all the care and information you need.

Editor's Note: This conference took place in February 2003.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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