MU Health: More women get cancer diagnoses over the phone

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COLUMBIA - University of Missouri Health released a study Tuesday that found more women are receiving breast cancer diagnoses over the phone, instead of in person.

“When you hear news of that caliber, you never know how you are going to react or how you are going to respond,” said breast cancer survivor Liz Morrow.

The study said before 2007, 25 percent of women got their diagnosis over the phone. After 2007, the numbers grew to 50 percent. Now, 60 percent of women are hearing they have cancer during a phone call.

Dr. Natalie Long teaches medical students at MU. She said in-person diagnoses are still preferred. One MU Health spokesperson said sometimes patients request to learn their diagnoses over the phone so they don't have to wait.

“Whenever you can look in someone’s eyes and squeeze their hand or some sort of physical connection, it goes a long way,” Long said.

Morrow says she appreciated hearing the news from a doctor she trusts.

“When the results came out on December the 5th I needed to be in her office and she needed to and wanted to personally give me that diagnosis,” Morrow said.

In a time where many people want things instantaneously, more people don’t want to wait to get to the doctor’s office. Long is training her students with that in mind.

“We are now including additional training for first-year medical students to talk about situations and techniques for breaking bad news over the phone,” Long said in a media release.

Long said MU is at the forefront of this kind of training in the digital age.

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