Indian Journal of Palliative Care
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Year : 2004  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 39-40

Are oncology patients aware of their diagnosis? A survey from Calicut

L H Block- 1, Calicut Medical College, Calicut 673008, India

Correspondence Address:
Divya Purrakkal
L H Block- 1, Calicut Medical College, Calicut 673008
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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Keywords: Cancer, communication, collusion

How to cite this article:
Purrakkal D, Pulasseri D, Ravindran S. Are oncology patients aware of their diagnosis? A survey from Calicut. Indian J Palliat Care 2004;10:39-40

How to cite this URL:
Purrakkal D, Pulasseri D, Ravindran S. Are oncology patients aware of their diagnosis? A survey from Calicut. Indian J Palliat Care [serial online] 2004 [cited 2021 Jun 19];10:39-40. Available from:

 » Aim Top

This survey was conducted in November, 2003, at the Calicut Medical College to estimate what proportion of patients attending radiotherapy services were aware of their diagnosis. A concurrent study at the same institution had found that 80% of medical professionals felt that a patient with a life threatening illness should be informed of his diagnosis.[1]

 » Materials and methods Top

One hundred patients from the radiotherapy department who consented to be included in the survey were asked the following three questions:

Are you aware of the nature of your diagnosis?

If yes, what was your source of information?

Did your doctor discuss the diagnosis with you?

 » Results Top

55 of all respondents were women and 45 were men. 62% of respondents were aware of their disease. Forty five percent of all patients had been told by their doctors. 55% of men and 27% of women stated that the doctor had discussed the diagnosis with them. The rest had learnt from members of their family (9), from other sources (2), or had guessed (7).

Three quarters of outpatients (26/ 35) and 56% of inpatients were aware of their diagnosis. This difference is possibly because the investigators met inpatients earlier in their illness trajectory.

 » Discussion Top

Until recently, it was not regarded as standard medical practice to tell cancer patients the diagnosis.[1] This was because of the widely held view that disclosure of the medical facts might destroy the patient's hope.[2] Over the last two decades, the trend in the West has been increasingly in favour of revealing the diagnosis to patients. In many Asian countries, however, popular culture is still against informing the patient.[3]

Only 46% of patients in Calicut said they had received their diagnosis from their doctors. Outpatients and men were more likely to have had a doctor discuss the diagnosis with them.In our earlier survey, 80% of professionals were in favour of explaining the diagnosis to patients, but only 46% of patients stated that this had happened. The reasons for this gap need to be explored. Lack of training in revealing the diagnosis may be one factor. Secondly, all patients who were aware of the diagnosis may not have admitted to that fact. Another important area which needs to be studied is the way the diagnosis was revealed and the impact this had on patients.

 » References Top

1.Divya.C.P, Dhanyasree.P, Sandhya. B.Ravindran Unpublished data.  Back to cited text no. 1    
2.Buckman R., Breaking Bad News: A guide for heath care professionals, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press 1992.  Back to cited text no. 2    
3.Tse CY, Chong A, Fok SY. Breaking bad news: a Chinese perspective. Palliat Med. 2003 Jun;17(4):339-43  Back to cited text no. 3    


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