Talk straight to cancer patients, study suggests

Some doctors often think they are doing patients a favor by keeping hope alive. New research shows they are wrong.

In a federally funded study, only one-third of terminally ill cancer patients said their doctors had discussed end-of-life care. The study involved 603 people in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Texas. All had life expectancies of less than a year.

The study found that patients who talked with their doctors about death were no more likely to become depressed than those who did not. They were also less likely to spend their final days in hospitals. They avoided costly futile care and their loved ones were more at peace after they died.

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