To make informed decisions about whether to receive chemotherapy, patients with advanced lung or colorectal cancer need a realistic understanding of its likely benefits. Previous studies have shown that patients with advanced solid tumors overestimate their life expectancy. Typically, these studies document substantial discrepancies between patients' assessments of their life expectancy and the estimates of their physicians. Much less is known about the understanding of the effectiveness of treatment among patients with advanced cancer, a conceptually distinct topic, since unlike prognosis, there is no uncertainty about whether chemotherapy offers any prospect of cure. Several small studies, most conducted in a single clinical setting, suggest that some patients with metastatic disease believe that palliative chemotherapy could be curative, but the prevalence and determinants of this misunderstanding have not been well characterized.


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