Background: Although reports have described the perceptions of curability among patients with unresectable/recurrent cancer and the quality of death and dying, the association between patients’ perceptions and physicians’ disclosures of incurability remained unexplored. This survey aimed to evaluate the association between patients’ perceptions of curability and physicians’ disclosures of incurability. Methods: In this cross-sectional, multicenter, observational study in Japan, we asked outpatients with unresectable/recurrent solid cancers about their perceptions of incurability. The patient inclusion criteria were unresectable/recurrent solid cancer, failure of first-line chemotherapy and an age ≥ 20 years. Additionally, we surveyed their primary responsible physicians regarding disclosures to patients regarding incurability. Results: Although we estimated the necessary sample size as 250, we discontinued recruitment because the responsible researcher transferred to another hospital. Among the 135 included and surveyed patients, 39% responded that their cancer was incurable, 33% responded that their cancer was curable and 23% responded ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I don’t wish to answer’. No significant association was observed between patients’ perceptions of curability and physician-reported disclosures of incurability. Conclusion: In this Japanese population, 39% of patients with unresectable/recurrent solid cancers perceived that their cancers were incurable. However, such perceptions did not appear to be significantly affected by physician-reported disclosures. We recommend additional research to determine the best disclosure method to ensure that patients truly understand their disease status.
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