August 3, 2006

Breast cancer surgery decisions difficult for many

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Approximately 40 percent of
women say they "feel uncomfortable" when asked to decide
between breast-conserving surgery and radical mastectomy for
breast cancer, according to a Canadian study.

Dr. Wally J. Temple and associates at the University of
Calgary in Alberta, Canada, conducted a study involving 157
women diagnosed with breast cancer who were all candidates for
breast-conserving surgery.

Nonetheless, only 71 percent ultimately expected to have
breast-conserving surgery, while the other 29 percent expected
a modified radical mastectomy.

The two main factors that influenced women's treatment
choices were her doctor's advice and the possibility for a
complete cure.

Approximately 60 percent of women were satisfied with the
degree that they participated in decision-making. That means
the decision-making process "made 40 percent of our patients
uncomfortable," Temple and colleagues write in the Journal of
Clinical Oncology. "This might adversely affect some women's
satisfaction with care."

"There is a gap between the women's preferences and actual
experiences for the provision of information and participation
in treatment; and this gap seems to be worse for information
than for participation," the researchers conclude from their

Surgeons could profit from education to decrease bias in
assisting women in making a decision, which should improve the
number of women choosing breast-conserving surgery if they are
candidates, the authors conclude.

SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Oncology, July 20, 2006.