The face of cancer treatment is changing and the patient is both living longer and is increasingly able to articulate the problems of painful illness and look for solutions to problems which cannot be solved by technological advances. The cancer patient, like others, is looking towards the self-help movement to help him achieve a better quality of life. The doctor-patient relationship can be improved for both by a franker look at the present situation, the needs of the patient, the family, and those without family, especially in relation to cancer and its cultural connotations. Self-help groups provide the support so often lacking in cancer management (including continuity), and a peer group within which adjustment needed to bring about the change in lifestyle required is achieved. Death need not be a word which is taboo, nor cancer a word which means Death. This is useful for doctor and patient alike.
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