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Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2015;16(15):6311-6.

Staged Improvement in Awareness of Disease for Elderly Cancer Patients in Southern China.

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Department of Medical Oncology, the Third Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China E-mail :;



In mainland China, awareness of disease of elderly cancer patients largely relies on the patients' families. We developed a staged procedure to improve their awareness of disease.


Participants were 224 elderly cancer patients from 9 leading hospitals across Southern China. A questionnaire was given to the oncologists in charge of each patient to evaluate the interaction between family and patients, patient awareness of their disease and participation in medical decision-making. After first cycles of treatment, increased information of disease was given to patients with cooperation of the family. Then patient awareness of their disease and participation in medical decision-making was documented.


Among the 224 cancer elderly patients, 26 (11.6%) made decisions by themselves and 125 (55.8%) delegated their rights of decision- making to their family. Subordinate family members tended to play a passive role in decision-making significantly. Patients participating more in medical decision-making tended to know more about their disease. However, in contrast to the awareness of disease, patient awareness of violation of medical recommendations was reversely associated with their participation in medical decision-making. Improvement in awareness of diagnosis, stages and prognosis was achieved in about 20% elderly cancer patients. About 5% participated more actively in medical decision-making.


Chinese elderly cancer patient awareness of disease and participation in medical decision-making is limited and relies on their family status. The staged procedure we developed to improve patient awareness of disease proved effective.

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