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Breaking good news

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 31 October 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e7355

Re: Breaking good news

Prediction of prognosis is a very difficult task even when a patient is riddled with cancer and is not being actively treated. (1)(2). So it is not surprising that prognostication for non-malignant conditions is even more difficult as highlighted by Liam Farrell.(3). Better to be honest with patients and families about the huge uncertainties inherent in prognostication.


1. Gripp S, Moeller S, Bölke E, Schmitt G, Matuschek C, Asgari S, et al. Survival prediction in terminally ill cancer patients by clinical estimates, laboratory tests, and self-rated anxiety and depression. J. Clin. Oncol. 2007 Aug 1;25(22):3313–20.

2. Parkes CM. Accuracy of predictions of survival in later stages of cancer. Br Med J. 1972 Apr 1;2(5804):29–31.

3. Farrell L. Breaking good news. BMJ. 2012;345:e7355.

Competing interests: No competing interests

11 November 2012
Santhanam Sundar
Consultant Oncologist
Nottingham University Hospitals NHS trust
Nottingham. NG5 1PB