Insights From:Tanios Bekaii-Saab, MD, Ohio State University-James Cancer Hospital; Cathy Eng, MD, FACP, MD Anderson Cancer Center; John L. Marshall, MD, Georgetown University Medical Center
Effective communication with a patient who has been newly diagnosed with colorectal cancer is critical, says John Marshall, MD. Determining the patient’s level of knowledge about cancer as well as what they would like to know is also important. Establishing objectives during each appointment will help the process, says Marshall, as it is not generally feasible to discuss everything and reach all treatment decisions by the end of their visit.
Understanding the social support system of a patient is also essential, states Cathy Eng, MD, such as who is responsible for assisting the patient and whether they are living with a spouse. Eng also ensures that her patients are comfortable with her speaking to family members. Having an interpreter present is helpful when speaking to patients whose primary language is not English. If that is not possible, low fee dial-in services are available, says Eng.