The myth of not disclosing the diagnosis of cancer: Does it really protect elderly patients from depression?

Creative Commons License

SILAY K. , Akinci S., Ulas A., Silay Y. S. , AKINCI M. B. , Ozturk E., ...More

Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention, vol.16, no.2, pp.837-840, 2015 (Journal Indexed in SCI Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 16 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2015
  • Doi Number: 10.7314/apjcp.2015.16.2.837
  • Title of Journal : Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention
  • Page Numbers: pp.837-840
  • Keywords: Cancer, Caregiver, Depression, Elderly, Informing diagnosis


Background: The disclosure of a diagnosis of cancer is complex, particularly in older patients. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between age and not knowing the diagnosis, and its impact on mood. Materials and Methods: The study included 70 patients with various types of solid and hematologic cancer in early stages, which were followed up in an outpatient oncology/hematology clinic in Turkey between January, 2014 and June, 2014. Initially the caregivers of patients were asked whether the patients knew their diagnosis or not. A questionnaire for the Geriatric Depression Scale was then administered to the patients. Patient age, gender, marital status and education level were noted and analyzed with respect to knowing the diagnosis and depression. Results: Of the 70 patients, 40% of them were female. The mean age was 68.2 ± 8.9. The rate of the patients who does not know their diagnosis was 37.1% (n=26). The overall depression rate with GDS was found 37.1% (n=26) among the participants. There was no association with knowing the diagnosis (p=0.208) although the association between not knowing the diagnosis and age was significant (p=0.01). Conclusions: In this study we revealed no association between not knowing the diagnosis and depression in elderly patients. Contrary to what some has thought, the patient is not protected from psychological distress by not being informed about the diagnosis. We believe this study and similar ones will help to discuss and further explore patient autonomy, the principle of respect to self-determination and end of life issues in different cultures.