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Patient reasoning in palliative surgical oncology


  • Presented at the 7th Annual Academic Surgical Congress in Las Vegas, Nevada on February 16, 2012.



The purpose of this study was to determine the patient reasoning behind treatment choice after palliative surgical consultation.


Patients undergoing palliative surgical consultation were prospectively enrolled in this observational cohort study (11/2009–5/2011) and administered an open-ended questionnaire asking for their reasoning in choosing their treatment strategy.


Of 98 patients enrolled, 54 were treated non-operatively and 44 with surgery. Patient responses indicating their reason for treatment selection were categorized into (1) quality of life or symptom relief, (2) unclear or response not related to treatment strategy, (3) increase length of life, (4) treat the cancer, (5) concerns over surgical complications, (6) doctor's recommendation, (7) religious reasons for treatment choice, and (8) for family. The most frequently cited reason for treatment selection was symptom relief or quality of life improvement in 46 patients. Thirty-eight patients cited their doctor's recommendation while 20 patients selected their treatment to increase length of life or treat their cancer. Only 2 patients cited concerns over surgical complications as their reason for choosing their treatment strategy.


The most common reasons for treatment selection in palliative surgical consultation include symptom relief or improvement in quality of life and the doctor's recommendation with few patients listing concerns over surgical morbidity. J. Surg. Oncol. 2013;107:372–375. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.