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Cancer patients confused by choice

4th September 2006

15082006_breastcancer.jpgA study by Cancer Research UK says that cancer patients can often feel baffled when offered a choice of treatments.

The study looked at a group of 43 ovarian cancer patients, and found they felt confused and concerned when offered options. They felt "abandoned" when doctors did not offer their own suggestions about what they should do.

The majority of women said they went along with the doctor's recommendation often because everything was happening too quickly to seek further information or because they felt too shocked and ill to make decisions. A second group although asking questions agreed with the doctor's suggestion because they felt there was no "real choice" if they wanted to survive. The smallest group said they had made at least some of their treatment decisions themselves, possibly even declining further treatment.

Some women said that when they were offered a choice of treatment they felt unprepared and tried to second guess what they thought the doctor wanted them to do. 

Medical director of Cancer Research UK, Professor John Toy, said: "It is now, quite rightly, common practice to include patients as active participants when discussing their treatment options. But it is essential that doctors help their patients to understand as far as possible the medical advice offered rather than let them feel that treatment choices are a burden for them to shoulder alone."

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