Understanding Cancer Treatment Customs

CURE, Winter 2017, Volume 1, Issue 1

IT’S HARD TO CHOOSE and comply with cancer treatments if you don’t understand your diagnosis, your choices or your rights as a patient. But many who are new to the United States find themselves in exactly that position.

IT’S HARD TO CHOOSE and comply with cancer treatments if you don’t understand your diagnosis, your choices or your rights as a patient. But many who are new to the United States find themselves in exactly that position.

That’s why the Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes, in New York, took measures to clarify the basic customs surrounding U.S. cancer treatment and then collaborated with the Translator Interpreter Program of Cornell University to present those principles in a variety of languages. That information is available for free online.

The Resource Center sought input from cancer experts around the country in devising the list of principles. Included are the following ideas:

› Doctors usually speak directly with the person who has cancer.

› Doctors are honest with their patients. They will tell patients about the cancer.

› Patients are encouraged to ask their doctor questions if they do not understand something or if they want more information.

› Controlling pain and nausea is very important, and no one should suffer.

› Medical information is kept confidential.

The program won a Town-Gown Award from Cornell.

The Translator-Interpreter Program at the Cornell Public Service Center trains Cornell students and staff who speak more than one language to serve as volunteer translators/interpreters for community agencies. The Resource Center offers information, support, networking, wellness programs and financial advocacy.

“Our motto is that no one should face cancer alone,” says Bob Riter, executive director of the Resource Center. “We work especially hard to support immigrants, who are more likely than anyone to feel isolated because of potential language and cultural barriers.”