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J Cancer Educ. 2011 Mar;26(1):183-7. doi: 10.1007/s13187-010-0154-2.

Ethics consultation on a gynecologic oncology service: an opportunity for physician education.

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Department of Gynecologic Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, PO Box 301439, Unit 1362, 1515 Holcombe Boulevard, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


The purpose of this study is to understand the features of gynecologic oncology patients who receive ethics consults in order to identify areas for physician education and improve patient care. A review of ethics consults for gynecologic oncology patients from 1993 to 2008 was performed. Information on all gynecologic oncology patients treated during the study interval was also collected to define a base population for comparison. Forty-one consults were performed. Compared to the base population, a greater proportion of consult patients had pregnancy-related malignancies (7.9% vs. 0.8%, p < 0.0001) and were African American (33.3% vs. 10.9%, p < 0.0001). The most common clinical case types involved identifying levels of appropriate treatment. Support of the health care team and complex family dynamics were key underlying issues. Ethics consultation provides a substantial resource in identifying relevant issues experienced by gynecologic oncology patients upon which physician educational initiatives may be based.

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