Breast Cancer: Knowing Your Options

Women with breast cancer may feel uninformed about treatment options

(RxWiki News) Some women with breast cancer may not feel completely informed about their treatment options, according to a new study.

And a separate new study found that using an internet-based decision aid tool could help keep women with breast cancer informed about their options.

In the first study, nearly 500 women (a relatively small sample size) with breast cancer who had undergone mastectomy, lumpectomy or both answered survey questions. Among the patients who had a lumpectomy, 47 percent said they felt informed about their treatment options. That figure was 67 percent for patients who had a mastectomy. But only 28 percent of patients who had both procedures said they felt informed about their options.

The researchers behind these studies noted that many women wished they had more time to make a treatment decision. These women also appeared to be unaware that they actually had more time to make a decision than they thought.

In the second study, researchers gave women with breast cancer access to either a web-based treatment decision tool or standard cancer information websites. The women who received the decision aid tool appeared to have more knowledge about their treatment options, were more likely to voice concerns they had and were more likely to understand that waiting a few weeks to make a treatment decision was not likely to impact their survival.

"In addition to providing information, the decision aid allows patients to compare choices by presenting the information in a parallel way," said lead study author Dr. Heather Neuman, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in a press release. "It includes extra pieces of information that prompt patients to think about their values and preferences."

Discuss any concerns or questions you have about your treatment with your health care provider.

These studies were published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

The Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health Scholar Program, University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center and MT-DIRC Fellowship funded one study. Authors of the other study disclosed ties to a medical device company.

Review Date: 
December 20, 2017