University of Southern California
Artist & Gallery


Prognosis

The professor put his third year students at ease by initially explaining about the correct way to place x-rays in the view box. "Be careful to place the film right side up and upper edge of the film in the frame holder." He then became serious, and asked one of the students to come forward and locate a shadow on the film that appeared to be a pulmonary metastasis. He asked the young man what he would say to this thirty-nine -year-old woman with eight children, if he were seated across the desk from her, and he had all the lab reports and films and case history read. "How should you tell a patient 'bad news'? That she has a mass in her chest which may be cancer?" The student could not answer...neither could anyone else.

"You don't have to knock someone over the head. Never give a diagnosis without offering first some hope, some therapy." Fortunately, in this instance, the shadow turned out to be old TB calcifications, rather than metastatic cancer.

-May Lesser

Excerpt & image from: Lesser, May H. The Art of Learning Medicine. New York: Appleton-Century Crofts; 1974. p. 184-5.

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