Using Plain Language to Help Patients Cope with Cancer

So many questions run through a patients mind when they’re diagnosed with cancer.

Now two Mass General doctors from the Cancer Center and the Division of Palliative Care are hoping to help answer those questions using clear and simple language.

David Ryan, MD, an oncologist, and Vicki Jackson, MD, MPH, a palliative care physician, have put together a comprehensive, user-friendly guide to coping and living with cancer, modeled after the iconic pregnancy handbook What to Expect When You’re Expecting. 

Their finished work, called Living with Cancer, was published earlier this month.

“People needed a guide to how to take care of their cancer that was practical and explained all the doctor speak in lay terms,” Ryan told Boston Magazine.

“Vicki and I always had a tendency to tell our patients stories—to say, ‘Well, I had a patient just like you.’ That technique we put into the book, and I think it allows us to explain the difficult medical situations in a much more friendly fashion.”

Avoiding scientific jargon is essential for communicating science and is especially important when it comes to communicating health information to patients. A serious diagnosis, such as cancer, can be traumatic for patients – resources like this book can help guide patients along the path to treatment.

You can read more about the book in this article from Boston Magazine.

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