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Volume 19, Number 3, 2014

Psychosocial and legal aspects of oncological treatment in patients with cognitive impairment

Maria Kuśnierkiewicz, Justyna Kędziora, Joanna Jaroszyk-Pawlukiewicz, Monika Nowak-Jaroszyk


With society getting older and affected by many diseases, more and more people suffer from severe cognitive disorders. As practice shows, the legal situations of such people is often problematic. This is due to a number of factors, such as short time since the deterioration of patient's condition, initial symptoms ignored, social prejudice towards the idea of incapacitation or taking decisions for a patient, complicated procedures and, sometimes, insufficient knowledge of legal regulations. Cognitive disorders also occur in patients treated for cancer. To be effective, oncological treatment needs to be started as early as possible. This, however, does not meet the criteria of sudden threat to life. The present article relates to both the psychosocial and legal aspects of care of people suffering from intense disorders of memory, attention, problem solving, executive functions, and other. Surely, physicians know how to handle patients with the above dysfunctions. However, legal procedures aimed to protect patients’ rights are often unclear and time consuming. In practice, this often amounts to a dilemma whether to treat or follow the applicable law. Certainly, solutions in this regard should be clearer and better adapted to the needs arising from specific treatment needs of particular groups of patients.

Signature: Rep Pract Oncol Radiother, 2014; 19(3) : 157-164

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