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Does Patients' Knowledge of Lung Cancer Diagnosis Improve Survival Outcomes?

By: Julia Fiederlein
Posted: Monday, June 29, 2020

Knowledge of a lung cancer diagnosis seems to contribute to patient survival, according to Yunxiang Tang, MD, PhD, of the Second Military Medical University in Shanghai, and colleagues. Results of this retrospective cohort study, which were published in Psycho-Oncology, highlight the importance of communication, patient support and education, as well as the patients’ right to knowledge in clinical practice.

In China, families usually decide whether a patient should be informed of a cancer diagnosis. “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,” Dr. Tang remarked in press release.

Between 2002 and 2016, a total of 29,825 patients were diagnosed with lung cancer and enrolled in the study. Upon enrollment, data on demographics, lung cancer diagnosis, and disease stage were collected from the Shanghai Cancer Registry. Follow-up data were assembled for each patient every 6 months until 2017. Gender, age, pathologic type, clinical stage, surgical history, reporting hospital grade, and occupation were factored into the analysis.

Of all study patients, 11,150 were informed of their diagnosis, 1,628 had unclear knowledge of their diagnosis, and 17,047 were completely uninformed. Based on the univariate and multivariate analyses, there appeared to be a significant association between patient knowledge of cancer diagnosis and survival (P < .001). This also seemed to be true in all subgroups of the stratified analysis (P < .001), except in the group reporting to primary grade hospitals (P = .073). Median survival times of informed patients and uninformed patients were 18.33 months and 8.77 months, respectively. Being female, young, having adenocarcinoma, early stage, a surgical history, and a high reporting hospital grade were associated with increased survival. The investigators proposed that, based on these results, legislation should be considered to protect patients’ right to know.

Disclosure: The study authors reported no conflicts of interest.



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