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[About the good use of illusions in oncology. End-of-life experiences and communications in adolescent patients.]

Journal title
Recenti progressi in medicina
Publication year
Veneroni, L.; Ferrari, A.; Podda, M.; Proserpio, T.; Pagani Bagliacca, E.; Massimino, M.; Clerici, C. A.

The issue of quality of life, particularly of patients affected by cancer, is very controversial, especially with adolescent patients who have no prospects of recovery. This article aims to describe the psychological mechanisms, which affect teenage patients with terminal cancer, in order to allow the best quality of life possible. The adaptation of teenager patients suffering from terminal illnesses is also related to other non-medical issues such as psychological, legal and ethical considerations. A correct and balanced communication with such patients is needed, in order of maintaining a positive mental approach ("hope") so that the teens are able to come to terms with the hard reality. Several case studies are presented, that according to the authors show the importance of developing an area of illusion, which allows patients to face up to the extreme distress and anxiety of their reality, without completely denying the reality itself. These hypotheses at the moment need more empirical evidences but they demonstrate the complex mental process involved with terminally ill adolescent patients coming to terms with their situations and show the importance of considering such process in all aspects of clinical care and treatment, in order to best address their physical and psychological well-being.

Research abstracts