The Consequences of Refusing Surgery

Two studies presented at the recent STS Annual Meeting showed that surgical therapy is superior to alternative treatment approaches for both esophageal cancer and coronary artery disease in younger patients. In light of these findings, Robbin G. Cohen, MD, MMM (University of Southern California), Mark S. Allen, MD (Mayo Clinic), Sebron W. Harrison, MD (Weill-Cornell Medicine), and Alan M. Speir, MD (Innova Health System) discuss why patients refuse surgery, how they respond to patients who opt against surgery, and the obligations of surgeons in an age of patient autonomy.