Medicine: Should the Doctor Tell?

One of medicine's great arguments rages on the question: Should a physician tell a patient with inoperable cancer the nature of his disease? Doctors reserve the right to make this decision themselves, even when the patient pleads for information. Says one U.S. doctor: "The question 'Do I have cancer?' may in reality be a strong plea for a negative answer."

Many doctors do not tell, arguing that the cancer victim usually realizes his condition anyhow but will not emotionally welcome scientific confirmation. Fortnight ago, in Cancer, an official publication of the American Cancer Society, a Swedish team composed of a psychiatrist, a...

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