Parents Want Honesty About Child's Diagnosis, Says New Study

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Regardless of the prognosis, parents of children with cancer prefer doctors to be open and honest, according to a new study.

"Providing families with a full explanation of the likely course of a disease is critical to helping them plan and have reasonable expectations about the outcome of treatment," says study leader Dr. Jonathan Marron, of Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center.

Researchers asked 353 parents of children newly diagnosed with cancer about their discussions with their child's doctors. They wanted to know whether those conversations had a positive or a negative effect.

Parents whose children were given poor prognoses said that honesty from the doctors resulted in greater peace of mind for them. It also helped them develop trust in the physician.

Being given more information, even when bad, did not lead to widespread anxiety, depression or loss of hope compared with parents who were given less information, according to the findings.

"Most agree that patients and families should know as much about their diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis that physicians can give them," Marron said in a news release from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). "At the same time, data have suggested that some oncologists are reluctant to discuss the details of prognosis with patients and their families out of concern that it might cause unnecessary anxiety and lead to depression. Our study suggests that such concerns are largely unwarranted."

These findings--scheduled to be presented at the end of May at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago--should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

Source: ASCO

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