FRIDAY, Jan. 20 (HealthDay News) -- In too many cases, doctors aren't doing a good job of informing American women with early stage breast cancer about the disease or their options in terms of surgery, a new study suggests.
In the study, researchers at the University of North Carolina surveyed breast cancer survivors on their knowledge of the disease. Respondents typically answered only about half of the questions correctly, and less than half said their surgeons had even asked them about their personal preference for surgery -- a full mastectomy vs. breast-conserving lumpectomy -- prior to treatment.
"We found that breast cancer survivors had fairly major gaps in their knowledge about their surgical options, including about the implications for recurrence and survival," said study lead author Dr. Clara Lee, an associate professor of surgery and director of surgical research at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill.
The paper was published in the January issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.
For the study, Lee and her colleagues sent surveys to 746 women who had undergone surgery for stage one or stage two breast cancer at one of four medical centers: the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston; the University of California, San Francisco; and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Among the 440 patients who responded to the survey, less than half (about 46 percent) knew that local recurrence risk is higher after breast-conserving surgery (lumpectomy) than after mastectomy, and only about 56 percent of women knew that survival rates are equivalent for both options.
The study also revealed that women who said they preferred mastectomy were less likely to have treatment that was in accordance with their goals. Lee said this was probably because "patients report
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