Dr. Tim Ihrig, a palliative care physician, treats Augie Avelleyra, 93, at his home in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Courtesy of Paula Avelleyra hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Paula Avelleyra

Smith talks with Dawn Dillard, 57, about a medical procedure at Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage. Dillard has uterine cancer. Annie Feidt/APRN hide caption

itoggle caption Annie Feidt/APRN

Dr. Martha Twaddle talks to a patient and strokes her hair during a visit at the Midwest Palliative and Hospice CareCenter in Skokie, Ill., in 2012. Antonia Perez/MCT /Landov hide caption

itoggle caption Antonia Perez/MCT /Landov

David Oliver sits quietly as he waits for the results of a scan at Ellis Fischel Cancer Center in Columbia, Mo., in 2012. The University of Missouri research professor was diagnosed with cancer in September 2011. He broke the news to colleagues via a video on the Internet. Jeff Roberson/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Jeff Roberson/AP

Dr. Joel Policzer checks on his patient, Lillian Landry, in the hospice wing of an Florida hospital in 2009. A new study found that many terminally ill cancer patients don't fully understand their prognosis. J. Pat Carter/AP hide caption

itoggle caption J. Pat Carter/AP