Hoping For Health Care Professionals

An ongoing goal of National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship is to provide consumer input for health care professionals about how they communicate with their patients, and how they discuss cancer, treatment options, and outlook with patients and their family members. To help with this educational process, NCCS conducted a survey entitled “Words that Heal, Words that Harm.”

Cancer survivors were asked to submit the most helpful and the least helpful statements made to them by members of their health care team. A few of their statements are reprinted below:


In this list, it is quite easy to identify the helpful—and the harmful—statements. As health care professionals, it may not be as easy to recognize the power that our words can have. They may be uplifting or they may create word wounds. A decade from now, a cancer survivor may still use your words as an example of a negative communication exchange, or your words may still have positive meaning for the individual.

Hope and Confidentiality
Maintaining Professional Hope
Maintaining a Community of Hope