Communication about cancer near the end of life



Cancer communication near the end of life has a growing evidence base, and requires clinicians to draw on a distinct set of communication skills. Patients with advanced and incurable cancers are dealing with the emotional impact of a life-limiting illness, treatment decisions that are complex and frequently involve consideration of clinical trials, and the challenges of sustaining hope while also having realistic goals. In this review, the authors sought to provide a guide to important evidence about communication for patients with advanced cancer regarding communication at diagnosis, discussing prognosis, decision making about palliative anticancer therapy and phase 1 trials, advance care planning, transitions in focus from anticancer to palliative care, and preparing patients and families for dying and death. Cancer 2008;113(7 suppl):1897–910. © 2008 American Cancer Society.