3 Topics Patients Should Discuss With Their Oncology Teams

Open communication between patients and providers is essential in cancer care. In fact, there are three important conversations patients should be having with their clinicians, explained Dr. Eric Jonasch.

Research published in Supportive Care in Cancer found that for patients with cancer living in rural areas, those with higher patient-provider communication tended to experience greater social wellbeing and functional wellbeing than those with low or medium patient-provider communication.

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Jonasch is a professor in the Department of Genitourinary Medical Oncology, Division of Cancer Medicine at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. He recently sat down and outlined three important patient-provider discussions. They include: the goals of care and quality of life discussions; the type of treatment options that are available; and if there are any clinical trials that might be an option.


First of all, obviously, what are the goals of care are really important. And these are different for every patient; some patients want a therapeutic effect and find that the side effect issues are secondary. Other patients are completely opposite. Some patients have goals in terms of what they want to be able to maintain an accomplish while they’re on treatment. So I think having that sort of a goals-of-care conversation is really important to begin with set the stage.

Secondly, really, I think, getting a clearer idea of what the options are from a therapeutic perspective, so that the patient and the patient’s family really know what those treatments are, what the logistics of receiving different types of treatments are (is important), because some therapies end up being much more onerous from a schedule perspective and from a time commitment perspective versus others.

Also, (it is important to discuss) what clinical trials and what research is out there, so their standard of care treatment, but what is there from a research perspective and asking the question, you know, your doctor, you’re providing me with standard of care options, but what are their clinical trials? And would these clinical trials be for me? I think these are some of the key things that should be discussed, with the with the care team.

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