Unique Aspects of Communication with Cancer Patients
The patient-centered model of care emphasizes the importance of the clinician's relationship with the patient and the patient's family as a therapeutic tool, endorses shared decision making as a key component of treatment, and emphasizes clinician understanding and addressing of patient concerns and information needs as important in promoting patient well-being and quality of life.[12,13] Interpersonal and communication skills are essential in achieving these goals and are also associated with other important clinical outcomes for the patient, the patient's family, and the medical team. These skills are especially important in highly charged emotional situations such as transitioning the patient to palliative care and at the end of life.
Patient Information Needs
Imparting information to the patient serves a number of key functions: it grants patients a sense of control, and it can reduce anxiety, improve compliance, create realistic expectations, promote self-care and participation, and generate feelings of safety and security. Many patients actively seek information and identify acquiring information as a priority. In one study, with 12 specific information and support topics listed, patients chose information as their greatest need. Ninety-seven percent of patients wanted more feedback on the progress of the cancer, 88% wanted more information on the probable future of their illness, and 91% wanted more information about their illness. Another study  found that 83% of the breast cancer patients interviewed wanted as much information as possible, 16% wanted limited information, and 91% of women wanted to know their prognosis before beginning adjuvant treatment; 63% wanted their oncologist to ask them whether they wanted to know their prognosis. Patient needs may, however, shift to an emphasis on support immediately after the first consultation. A study has shown that 63% of patients also wanted more assurance that they would be looked after, 59% wished for greater reassurance and hope, and 59% expressed an increased need to talk about their worries and fears. In several studies, information-seeking has been found to have beneficial effects on increased compliance, increased patient satisfaction, improved quality of life, and reduced distress.[14,16,17]