Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 2, Issue 4, pp 242–244 | Cite as

What do advanced cancer patients know of their disease?

A report from Italy
  • Paolo Pronzato
  • Gianfilippo Bertelli
  • Pierluigi Losardo
  • Marco Landucci
Original Article


The aim of this work was to investigate the awareness of diagnosis, prognosis and meaning of palliative treatment in Italian patients with advanced, incurable cancers. A group of 100 patients, referred to a Medical Oncology facility, were interviewed. Only 38 patients were aware of the malignant neoplastic nature of their disease. The remaining patients believed they had a benign neoplasia, non-neoplastic disease, or were unable to define their illness. No patient had a correct idea of the poor prognosis of the disease. Only 11.5% of 87 patients receiving chemotherapy had a correct perception of the palliative intent of the treatment, while most believed that the chemotherapy was “preventive”. Dissatisfaction with the information received was expressed by a minority of patients. The awareness of diagnosis was better among women and patients with a higher educational background. Witholding the truth from cancer patients still seems very common in Italy.

Key words

Cancer diagnosis Disclosure Informaed consent Quality of care Truth telling 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paolo Pronzato
    • 1
  • Gianfilippo Bertelli
    • 2
  • Pierluigi Losardo
    • 1
  • Marco Landucci
    • 1
  1. 1.U.O. Oncologia MedicaOspedale S. AndreaLa SpeziaItaly
  2. 2.Istituto Nazionale per la Ricerca sul CancroGenoaItaly

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