Is therapeutic non-disclosure still possible? A study on the awareness of cancer diagnosis in China

Support Care Cancer. 2011 Aug;19(8):1191-5. doi: 10.1007/s00520-010-0937-3. Epub 2010 Jul 14.


Objective: The objectives are to study cancer patients' awareness of their diagnosis and to determine who tends to disclose bad news to cancer patients.

Method: A total of 151 consecutive oral and maxillofacial cancer patients and their relatives were surveyed using semi-structured interviews.

Results: Of the 151 patients, 64.2% were aware of their cancer diagnosis. Of this group, 20.6% had been told by physicians and 17.5% were informed by relatives, with the remaining 61.9% acquiring the diagnosis on their own. The more educated patients were more likely to be aware they had cancer.

Conclusion: Despite efforts by family members to conceal cancer diagnoses from patients, the majority of patients discovered the diagnosis of their own accord. This finding suggests that therapeutic non-disclosure is not very effective at withholding the truth from patients.

MeSH terms

  • Access to Information
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Awareness*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • China
  • Communication
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mouth Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Patient Rights
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Truth Disclosure*
  • Young Adult