Diagnosis, disease stage, and distress of Chinese cancer patients

Boyan Huang, Huiping Chen, Yaotiao Deng, Tingwu Yi, Yuqing Wang, Yu Jiang


Background: The objective is to assess how cancer patients know about their diagnosis what they know about their real stage, and the relationship between cancer stage and psychological distress.
Methods: A questionnaire including the Distress Thermometer was delivered to 422 cancer inpatients. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was used to estimate odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI).
Results: Most of patients (68.7%) knew the bad news immediately after diagnosis. Half of patients knew their diagnosis directly from medical reports. Nearly one third of patients were informed by doctors. Cancer stages, which patients believed, differed significantly from their real disease stages (P<0.001). Over half of patients did not know their real disease stages. Patients with stage I–III cancer were more likely to know their real disease stage than patients with stage IV cancer (P<0.001). Distress scores of cancer patients were determined by the real cancer stage (P=0.012), not the stage which patients believed.
Conclusions: Although most of participants knew the bad news immediately after diagnosis, less than half of them knew their real disease stage. Patient with stage I–III cancer was more likely to know the real disease stage and had a DT score <4 than patient with stage IV disease.