Making Patients Understand Comprehensive Cancer Care in Simple Terms

According to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, many cancer survivors have difficulty understanding terminologies related to their disease. Most patients are left hanging when clinicians use esoteric language while treating them. Since their main concern is their health, they need to have a mutual patient-physician relationship by understanding and participating in their treatment process. Speaking the same language will help them cope better.

Many targeted treatment options for cancer have emerged so far. For patients to make informed decisions regarding their care, they need to be able to understand the oncology lexicon better. Although clinicians may try to communicate options to patients in a more comprehensible manner, the cancer language can remain puzzling for some, especially when it comes to clinical trials.

To help patients understand their care better;

  • The healthcare team, including oncologists, pharmacists, nurses, and patient advocacy groups have been called to develop a language that is patient-friendly. This will help to efficiently communicate treatment and results during clinical trials.
  • To increase patient understanding and participation, a set of oncology definitions can be developed for the drugs used in clinical trials. Involving patients in their care procedures can help to produce fruitful results and the overall increase in their response rates.

Complex terminologies for cancer diagnosis and treatment leave patients wondering where to get the information and resources they need to understand their care. The FDA has confirmed from public workshops how patients face difficulty when trying to understand trial terminologies such as OS, PFS, DFS, and more that convey the harms and benefits of their treatment.

Such terms are only useful to cancer drug researchers and clinicians, but not for patients who need to decide about their care in clinical trials. Because of the overwhelming time pressures in the clinic, providing easily understandable terminologies to patients will create a comfortable environment for patients to choose the right care.

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