Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Breaking the Bad News to the Family

Guidelines Help Cancer Patients Tell Family, Friends
WebMD Health News

Oct. 22, 2002 -- Getting bad cancer news from your doctor is very hard. Telling your family and friends can be even harder. Now there's help.

A new program from the University of Heidelberg in Germany helps cancer patients get much-needed support from the people in their lives. Alexander Marmé, MD, presented the findings at this week's meeting of the European Society for Medical Oncology.

"There are two major problems here: anxiety, enhanced by a lack of knowledge," Marmé says in a news release. "Patients are afraid of talking about their illness with relatives. They don't know how to deal with it. The lack of communication causes additional stress in personal relationships."

Marmé and colleagues interviewed 58 cancer patients. Most thought they already communicated well with their partners but saw room for improvement.

To this end, the researchers have set up one-day workshops for cancer patients and their partners. The aim is to teach them the communication skills needed to get support -- not only from one another, but also from family and friends. It's called the GOALS program:

  • Getting together. A special time and chosen place should be used to set this important conversation apart from the distractions of day-to-day life.
  • Opening. Those involved must agree that there is a need or wish to talk.
  • Acknowledging each other's emotions. Understanding what the other person is feeling is crucial.
  • Learning about the disease and exchanging ideas.
  • Strategy. It's important to make plans to meet again and to keep the discussion open.

"Our program aims to break down the barriers and encourage people to discuss their cancer openly and appropriately," Marmé says.

Today on WebMD

Colorectal cancer cells
New! I AM Not Cancer Facebook Group
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Ovarian cancer illustration
Real Cancer Perspectives
Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
what is your cancer risk
colorectal cancer treatment advances
breast cancer overview slideshow
prostate cancer overview
lung cancer overview slideshow
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
Actor Michael Douglas