A Challenging Issue for both Patients and Physicians: Breaking Bad News in Oncology

Anuk D., Bahadır G.

TURK ONKOLOJI DERGISI-TURKISH JOURNAL OF ONCOLOGY, vol.35, no.1, pp.114-118, 2020 (ESCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Review
  • Volume: 35 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.5505/tjo.2020.2234
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, CINAHL, EMBASE, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.114-118
  • Keywords: Bad news, breaking bad news protocols, communication, oncology
  • Istanbul University Affiliated: Yes


Providing the patients with negative information about diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis, in other words breaking bad news, is a complicated process for both the patient and the physician. The oncologists often should break the bad news to patients and their relatives. Bad news in the field of oncology often includes the following processes: telling the diagnosis of cancer, providing information about recurrence or metastasis according to the prognosis of the disease, saying that there is nothing left to do medically, and ultimately telling the relatives of the patient the death of the patient. A negative diagnosis or a negative improvement in prognosis should be explained to the patient (sometimes to the patient's relative) with care, empathic and sensitive attitude because a person is emotionally vulnerable while receiving bad news about his/her health or health of a relative. We will focus, in this article, on the importance of breaking bad news as part of clinical practice in oncology, and we will briefly introduce the protocols developed for the proper conduct of breaking bad news and provide information about what the physician should do in the process of breaking bad news by considering the basic features of breaking bad news protocols.