GOOD COMMUNICATION AND EMOTIONAL CARE FOR PATIENTS WITH CANCER: THE ROLE OF PSYCHO-ONCOLOGY

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Abstract

The Cancer Control Act implemented in April 2007 in Japan reveals necessity of appropriate and continuous palliative care just after cancer diagnosis. Good communication between medical staffs and cancer patients is essential in order to achieve this goal. Actually, as basic plan of the Cancer Control Act clearly describes, truth-telling of cancer diagnosis to patients itself is relevant communication skill and physicians are expected to provide emotional care for patients just after disclosure of diagnosis. In addition, each patient's optimal decision making is also achieved based on good communication including sufficient information provision and support from his/her physician. Thus it may be no exaggeration to say that physician's good communication skill is essential clinical competency for medical oncology practice. The importance of communication, however, may not be fully recognized in current medical practice in Japan. From this point of view, one of the important roles of psycho-oncology in Japan is to help physicians and patients establish good communication between them. In this symposium I will talk about communication issues between physicians and patients based on previous findings including cross-cultural aspects as well as current status. Furthermore, the role of psycho-oncology in order to provide better medical oncology practice for cancer patients and family members in Japan will also be discussed.

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