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ASCOconnection.org is a forum for the exchange of views on topical issues in the field of oncology. The views expressed in the blogs, comments, and forums belong to the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Please read the Commenting Guidelines.

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Not everyone shares my view of what constitutes a good death, and I’ve come to realize that when a patient has a very different view of the end of life from mine, it can be very difficult to do what’s right.
When the word “cancer” is evoked and you are asked to see an oncologist, a flood of emotions can occur. Often you are even unsure of what questions to ask. I hope this blog will help create a quick reference sheet for a patient during their office visit.
I will never forget the first patient I lost as an attending. Yes, I know that is cliché, but first-time experiences always resonate in our minds.
The foundation of the guideline update is that palliative care should apply from the time of diagnosis, and through treatment, recurrence, and long-term survivorship or the end of life.
If you really want to help someone, you have to understand the context of their lives, because that context influences if they are able to listen, what they will hear, and what they will do with the information you tell them.
“When are we going to cure cancer?” If I had a dime for every time I’ve been asked that...The trite answer is that we already cure many cancers, just not enough of them! But the real question should be, “Why don’t we cure all cancers?”
As physicians, Dr. Michael K. Keng writes, we have the responsibility not only to care for our patients, but to improve patient care. Quality improvement is often known as a mechanism to reduce cost, but it is also an opportunity to improve the full patient experience. 
It's a mistake to assume that we become more prepared for death as we get older.
We all strive to provide evidence-based medicine, yet putting it into practice can sometimes be the most challenging part of being a doctor.
It's up to us to advise our patients not to share medications, despite their generous natures. At best, the medications are ineffective because they aren't used properly; at worst, misuse can cause active harm.
People with cancer and their caregivers need to think about pacing themselves for what may turn out to be a marathon, says Dr. Lidia Schapira.
Cancer unavoidably leads to losses. Letting go of what I have lost has allowed me to accept and be grateful for what I, for the moment, have. I wish that I could have started doing this without getting sick.
In oncology, many patients continue under our care for years and years. These patients become part of our clinic and, dare I say, our lives, and it is the merging of patient-person-friend where, emotionally, being an oncologist can become quite complicated.
Words can harm and words can heal. Using the word "partner" when scheduling an initial appointment with a patient opened the door to a more meaningful relationship, and created an environment of safety and trust.
A patient had the worst news delivered to her in quite possibly the worst possible way. We cannot let our patients feel like they are just a number in our calculated RVUs. They deserve our time, consideration, and empathy—even when we are covering.
"Scanxiety" doesn't appear in any legitimate dictionaries (yet), but it is a very real experience for patients with cancer. You can help your patients manage their scanxiety by emphasizing that you will be there to guide them based on the results of their scans.
Solving the chemical or mechanical challenges of sex after cancer isn't always enough. My work often involves helping patients connect their body to their head and their heart.
My patient chose not to share her cancer diagnosis. She shouldered so much, and did it only with the support of her husband—no friends, no neighbors, not even her children. It was the way she wanted to get through her treatment, but it was a heavy weight to carry.

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