Spiritual and religious concerns often become of central importance in the care of surgical oncology patients confronted with their mortality. Unfortunately, surgeons are often ill prepared or reluctant to address the spiritual and religious needs of their patients. In this article, working definitions of spirituality versus religiosity will be developed in the context of the three largest monotheistic religions in America: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Disease, dying, and death will be explored with respect to these faiths and examples of how to address religious beliefs in practical clinical settings will be given. Finally, specific suggestions will be made for surgeons to better understand, empathize with, and address the needs of their seriously ill patients in a holistic manner.
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