Background: Surveys carried out in Mediterranean countries demonstrated very low rates of awareness of both diagnosis and prognosis among cancer patients. In our institution, a long-term training program aimed at improving communication skills among all physicians interacting with cancer patients was conducted. We report here the results of an extensive assessment of patients' awareness conducted after the first training period. Patients and methods: In a 2-year period, after every first visit of patients with a histological diagnosis of cancer, oncologists elicited perception of the patients and completed a structured questionnaire focusing on the understanding of the diagnosis and prognosis. Our data are thus a photograph of the results of the informative process conducted during the diagnostic phase. Results: Among the enrolled 649 patients, 79.3% were aware of their diagnosis; factors significantly associated with higher levels of awareness were age younger than 70 and referral from surgery (versus internal medicine). Knowledge about the palliative or curative aims of future treatments (a surrogate sign of prognostic consciousness) was evident in 55.2%. Conclusions: Compared with historical data, our results show a high level of comprehension of the diagnosis of malignancy, probably due to the extensive training effort together with the method chosen for assessment.
- Truth disclosure
ASJC Scopus subject areas