PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It’s one of the most difficult pieces of news someone will ever hear, getting diagnosed with cancer. Now, that diagnosis is getting even tougher for some people.
No one wants to hear bad news, especially when it comes to your health but if there is a medical problem many say that they would rather hear the news firsthand.
‘I want to hear it face to face,” says one person.
“I would prefer to receive it in person,” adds another.
One person acknowledged human nature, saying “We’re social creatures. I want to be in person to talk about it.”
In spite of that steady answer, getting bad health news in person isn’t always the case.
A new study from the University of Missouri School of Medicine shows that when it comes to breast cancer diagnoses the majority of women receive the news from their doctors over the phone.
The study surveyed nearly 3,000 breast cancer patients from 1967 through 2017 and found that one out of four patients were notified by phone prior to 2007.
Since 2017, that number has grown to 60 percent.
“Those three words, you have cancer, it’s an awful thing for anyone to hear regardless of whether or not it’s breast cancer,” says Dr. Jennifer Simmons, chief of breast cancer surgery at Einstein Medical Center in Montgomery County. “All of my patients receive that call. I don’t have a single patient I give a diagnosis to in person.”
She says patients prefer this method since the information is delivered immediately when she gets back the biopsy results and that they’re waiting for her call.
“It’s all about managing expectations and setting expectations from the beginning. This is when I’m going to be calling. Is this a good time for you? Should we set up another time?” Dr. Simmons adds.
And the call, if it includes those three dreaded words, is just the beginning of many face-to-face meetings.
It’s a 5-minute conversation on the phone which is followed by an hour long’s conversation a day or two later in person.