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Straight talk with your doctor


HEALTHLINE -- The next time you see your doctor, you may want to be as up-front as possible about the way you feel.

Vince Sherry explains why hedging the truth can be deadly.

When brain cancer patient David Anderson tells his doctor how he's doing, he tries to be as open and candid as he can be. "I think it makes everybody's job a little easier and I think certainly the outcome is probably better," says patient David Anderson.

He may be right.

Researchers at Oregon health and science university studied what happens when doctors and patients aren't on the same page.

"A physician might have rated a patient's performance status, which is a medical term for well-being, higher than the patient rated their own performance status," says Tomasz Beer, M.D. Medical Oncologist.  

They found that if the doctor thinks the patient's doing better than he really is, it can affect treatment.

"The medical decisions which are driven by a solid understanding of the patient's condition may not be optimal when the physician doesn't fully recognize the patients accurate sense of well-being," says Dr. Beer.

In fact, among cancer patients, this so-called disagreement was linked to an increased risk of death. . "patients who are depressed, patients who are no longer able to work and patients with less than a high school education were the three groups where the risk of disagreement was the highest," says Dr. Beer.

The reason is unclear. Maybe patients don't want to complain. Or they think the doctor can't help them anyway."I think sometimes it's an inherent feeling of we don't wanna' be too gloomy because this is serious business," says Anderson.

It's also a business where straight talk may save your life.

This is Vince Sherry reporting.

Healthline is furnished by MedStar Television.

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