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77% of Cancer Patients Do Not Know Their Cancer Stage

Most patients don't grasp cancer

Most people with cancer don't understand their disease and their role in treatment.

That's the finding of a study by oncologist Joseph T. Santoso of The West Clinic, who discovered that 77 percent of cancer patients don't have a firm grasp of what is happening to them.

Working at Methodist-University Hospital, Santoso evaluated 284 patients on their understanding of their disease and compared it to standard demographic categories, such as age, race, education and marital status. Each patient's set of answers was then compared to what is actually in their medical chart.

The results showed that 98 percent knew their diagnosis and 91 percent knew where the disease was located. But only 23 percent correctly identified the stage of their cancer. Scoring particularly low were elderly male patients with a low income.

Santoso was inspired to conduct the study as he realized the powerful emotional response people have to the word 'cancer' and suspected that emotions were making it difficult for patients to understand what is going on.

He believes the solution lies in the hands of physicians, who need to better tailor their communication to the abilities of each patient. Santoso believes many doctors slide too easily into the technical jargon they use when talking to fellow physicians.

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