The Oncologist's Perspective

People with cancer and their oncologists face some of life's toughest challenges together. If you've ever wondered how oncologists deal with the emotional issues they themselves encounter while caring for patients, be sure to read ASCO's "The Art of Oncology" series.

This series is written in individual essay form by physicians about some of the most difficult conversations patients and doctors have. These articles may be of benefit for patients and families, on such topics as understanding prognosis (chance of recovery), choosing a treatment plan, symptom control and hospice care, and end-of-life planning.

This ongoing series began in 2000, and essays are published regularly in the American Society of Clinical Oncology's Journal of Clinical Oncology (JCO), the world's leading peer-reviewed journal for doctors who treat people with cancer.

Art of Oncology e-books

In 2010, a collection of 30 essays was published on Kindle in e-book format entitled Art of Oncology: Honest and Compassionate Responses to the Daily Struggles of People Living with Cancer. In 2011, a second e-book (Volume 2) was published with 34 additional essays.

In these heartfelt pieces, doctors reveal how they respond to the personal needs of people with cancer: how to be honest with patients about their condition; how to be realistic but simultaneously hopeful; how to answer the difficult question of "How much time do I have left?"

Both volumes of Art of Oncology are available for Kindle readers (including Kindle apps for BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad, Android, Mac, and PC). Learn more about ordering Volume 1 and Volume 2.

Cancer.Net Podcasts on the Art of Oncology

In the first e-book's preface, Charles L. Loprinzi, MD, Mayo Clinic, notes that "in addition to providing treatment, oncologists need to respond to the very personal and human needs of patients and their loved ones."

Dr. Loprinzi highlights individual essays from Art of Oncology in a free Cancer.Net audio podcast series. Visit the Cancer.Net Podcasts page to find Dr. Loprinzi’s podcasts based on Art of Oncology essays.

Read Sample Essays

Survivorship Issues

This section includes articles devoted to such issues as maintaining quality of life after cancer treatment, returning to a normal routine while facing fatigue, and following the recommended schedule for post-treatment screenings and tests.

Emotions of Oncologists

Taking care of patients with life-threatening illnesses can become emotionally charged experiences for oncologists and other health-care professionals. These articles discuss the emotions of oncologists, including some of the challenges and lessons learned.

Symptom Control in Patients With Advanced Cancer

Patients with advanced cancer have multiple physical and emotional symptoms related to their disease. Pieces in this section deal with ways to attempt to control such symptoms, including appetite loss, dehydration, and pain.

End-of-Life Issues

This section addresses how different groups—oncologists, patients, and caregivers—think about end-of-life care issues, and discusses an oncologist's responsibility and perspective when it comes to difficult subjects, such as advanced cancer, hospice, do not resuscitate (DNR) orders, cytotoxic therapy, supportive care, maintaining a patient's dignity, and imminent death.