A patient's ability to recall information isn't the only variable that might impede cancer treatment. Another potential problem is religious beliefs. According to a letter in the same issue of the journal, some Muslims undergoing cancer treatment feel they must fast -- forgoing food and sometimes liquid -- during Ramadan, which can have deleterious effects on their cancer treatment.
The letter points out that physicians should be aware that "Islam forbids fasting if this would be harmful to the individual," and this would be the case for someone undergoing cancer treatment. If necessary, the author recommends that a mosque imam might be helpful in convincing a patient not to fast during cancer treatment.
To read about the emotional impact of a cancer diagnosis, visit the American Cancer Society.
SOURCES: Len Lichtenfeld, M.D., deputy chief medical officer, American Cancer Society, Atlanta; Jay Brooks, M.D., chair, hematology/oncology, Ochsner Health System, Baton Rouge, La.; Nov. 20, 2008, Journal of Clinical Oncology