In a study of adults in China with lung cancer, patients who knew of their cancer diagnosis generally survived longer than those who did not.
In the Psycho-Oncology study of 29,825 patients, the median survival time in patients who knew of their diagnosis was 18.33 months versus 8.77 months for those who did not.
The study's authors noted that the survival benefits of the awareness of cancer diagnoses in patients is a controversial topic in some countries due to their culture and customs. In China, cultural, social, and legal factors play a role in not fully revealing disease status to patients with cancer. Usually, doctors first explain cancer diagnoses to patients' families, who determine whether patients will learn of their exact disease status.
"Although the complete disclosure of cancer diagnoses may cause emotional disturbance in patients immediately after being told of their diagnosis, it benefits them in the long term," said senior author Yunxiang Tang, MD, PhD, of The Second Military Medical University, in China. "Communication skills training for doctors and psychological support and education for patients and their families should be given more attention in clinical practice."