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Minorities less likely to know about breast cancer treatment options
Date:7/30/2008

ANN ARBOR, Mich. Nearly half of women treated for breast cancer did not know that their odds of being alive after five years are roughly the same whether they undergo mastectomy or breast conserving surgery. Minority women were even less likely to be aware of this important factor of their treatment decision, according to a study from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Minority women were also less likely to know about relative survival rates even when researchers considered factors such as the surgeon's experience, the type of hospital, and whether patients reported talking to their surgeon about treatment options.

"These factors traditionally associated with quality care were not associated with informed decision-making or with our knowledge measures. Surgeon volume or treatment setting did not affect whether women had good knowledge of their treatment options after they had been through the process, nor did it really mediate the racial and ethnic differences we found," says study author Sarah Hawley, Ph.D., a research investigator at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Results of the study appear in the August issue of Health Services Research.

The researchers surveyed 1,132 breast cancer patients and asked them whether the chances of being alive five years after surgery were the same after a mastectomy or after lumpectomy with radiation, and whether the chance of breast cancer coming back after treatment was the same for the two surgeries.

Overall, only 51 percent responded correctly to the survival question, but the numbers varied significantly for minorities: 57 percent of whites answered correctly, 34 percent of African-Americans knew their survival odds, and 37 percent of Latinas did.

The researchers found similar results for the recurrence question. Overall, 48 percent said they did not know the answer to the recurrence question, with African-Americans and Latinas
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Contact: Nicole Fawcett
nfawcett@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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