How to tell someone that she is dying | The New Yorker

Peter Ubel writing about how doctors trained to treat disease can clash with patients who have different perspectives:

By the end of this particular appointment, the oncologist had done what modern physicians are supposed to do—he informed his patient of her treatment alternatives and he left the final choice up to her. But, in the process, he left the patient little choice but to accept one of these alternatives rather than to leave her cancer untreated.

During my oral exam for my surgery rotation in medical school, I was asked how I would describe the treatment options for breast cancer to a newly diagnosed patient. I started off by saying that the first option would be to do nothing. I was laughed at by the surgical oncologist administering the test.