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Study Shows Only 5% of Terminally Ill Cancer Patients Understand their Limited Survival Time

One of the most difficult things for a person with mesothelioma to truly grasp is that their disease has no cure. Few people have even heard of this rare form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, and because we have heard so many inspiring stories of cancer patients beating the odds, most people have a tendency to believe that with the help of modern medicine, they too can battle back and regain their health. Unfortunately, that is not always the case, and mesothelioma patients are not alone in their inability to understand this sad fact. A recent study conducted by researchers from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Weill Cornell Medicine and Cornell University has determined that only a very small percentage of patients who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness truly understand that they are going to die of their disease.

The study involved 178 cancer patients, and found that only five percent were able to correctly answer a short series of simple questions about their illness. This was true despite the fact that roughly one in four had recently and previously had extensive discussions with their physician about how long they had to live. According to the study’s co-author Holly Prigerson, who is Director of the Research on End of Life Care at Weill Cornell Medical Center, there are a number of reasons why this may happen. In some cases, patients simply do not want to hear the news, so they block it out. In others, the physician has been less than clear or blunt, focusing on treatment options without fully explaining that there is a difference between a treatment and a cure.

Prigerson says that the idea that patients who have been told that they are terminal suffer downtowns in health has been disproven, but that doesn’t mean that physicians have stopped avoiding the topic. According to Dr. Barbara Daly, director of the clinical ethics program at University Hospital’s Case Medical Center,

“It takes a high level of skill to talk to people … to present it in a way where it’s understandable. Doctors .. they literally forget how to talk like a normal person.”

For patients who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, having a thorough understanding of their prognosis and the impact of their disease is important, as there are time limits on the actions that they can take to pursue lawsuits against those responsible for their disease. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma and are concerned that you are running out of time to file a lawsuit, call the attorneys at Danziger and De Llano today. We will explain the statute of limitations that applies to your case and help you get started on the road to getting the compensation that you deserve and that your family needs.

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer is an independent writer, editor and proofreader. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Her dreams of a writing career were diverted by a need to pay her bills. She spent a few years providing copy for a major retailer, then landed a lucrative career in advertising sales. With college bills for all three of her kids paid, she left corporate America for a return to her original goal of writing. She specializes in providing content for websites and finds tremendous enjoyment in the things she learns while doing her research. Her specific areas of interest include health and fitness, medical research, and the law.

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