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Synopsis

Navigating the tumultuous waters of cancer treatment and decision making is difficult for all patients. It is also difficult for doctors and other medical personnel. This books deals with a variety of emotion-related and ethics issues that form much of the basis of the world of cancer related medicine: the responsibilities of the physician relative to truth, full disclosure, patient autonomy, death and dying, physician assisted suicide, and suicide in general among cancer patients. These and many other matters are discussed using real stories from the author’s extensive personal career in working with cancer patients and their families. This is not a book on treating cancer, but instead is a work that seeks to stimulate a dialog about these issues as well as the spiritual aspects of hope and other factors relating to the plight of cancer patients and their families.

Written for health care professionals and cancer victims and their families alike, the core of the book centers around questions of medical ethics, doctor-patient relationships, decision making during cancer treatment (from medical and patient points of view). Given the emotional commitment and energy level required to work with cancer patients in a moral and ethical manner, medical students and residents will ask themselves: do I really want to be a cancer physician? Can I handle the ups and downs of treating people who may (or may not) be destined to fight and lose the battle against this strong nemesis? How will I answer the tough questions regarding medical approaches to cancer? How will I respond to patients who indicate a desire to commit suicide or request my help in doing so? What can I tell families whose loved one is choosing treatments that will not help and will deteriorate his quality of life? Basing his responses on the Oath of Hippocrates, the author illustrates how adaptable this oath actually is when considering the secular society in which we function.

The Cancer Experience instructs doctors, medical students, and health care workers involved in cancer care on the proper role of medicine, the role of the doctor, and the opportunities for connecting with patients as they help them make decisions regarding treatment and end of life issues. It helps patients understand the issues facing doctors as they assist them, care for them, and try to maintain both close personal relationships but enough emotional and professional distance in order to protect themselves from the stress and strain when medicine fails and patients must face the hardest choices. Here the author promotes a return to traditional medical values that promote closer doctor-patient relationships in an effort to promote trust, civility, and partnership.

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