Oncologists shouldn’t delay frank talk with patients

My lede:

Oncologists caring for patients with incurable cancer should have realistic conversations about treatment options and refer patients for palliative care services earlier, according to a new policy statement by the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

The recommendations come on the heels of research showing that fewer than 40% of oncologists have such candid talks with their patients and that patients who receive palliative care live longer than those who receive only oncologic care.

Honest conversation with patients whose cancer cannot be cured is “happening far less often than it should,” said Allen S. Lichter, MD, CEO of ASCO, which has more than 30,000 oncology professionals as members. “It should happen 100% of the time.”

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