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What the doctor doesn't know
  1. Kevin X Liu
  1. Correspondence to Kevin X Liu, Harvard Medical School, 25 Shattuck St, Boston, MA 02138, USA; kevin_liu{at}

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The doctor looks sad. His limp and hunched stance belies his tall stature and broad shoulders. Missing were the animated hand gestures that accompanied his discussion of her treatment options when she was first diagnosed with lung cancer in his small office. Today, there is no good news for her, no different from the preceding weeks. She watches the doctor's mouth meander through the motions of explaining her prognosis, but she isn't listening.

She understands everything that they have already explained—lung cancer, metastatic, mutation in a growth factor receptor, fluid in her abdomen, and more minute details about every aspect of …

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  • Twitter follow Kevin X Liu at @forgottenrain

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.