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Doctor-patient relationships would die without this one thing

As many readers are undoubtedly well aware, the doctor-patient relationship has a place of profound significance in health care. The critical importance of this relationship becomes magnified in oncology, where life hangs in the balance, and fear hangs over every soul that walks the invisible line between life and the everlasting night of undrawn death. In the winter of 2015, a needle biopsy was performed on a mysterious tumor in my neck. Following this procedure, my otolaryngologist told me emphatically that it was “not cancer.” When I saw him for a follow-up, he seemed concerned, and so I asked him if the tumor was definitively benign. He confessed that he wasn’t entirely certain,...

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