Researchers then looked at whether the women were treated by a general surgeon or one who specializes in breast cancer procedures, as well as whether the woman was treated at a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center or in a community hospital setting.
They found that even when factoring these points in, minority women still were less likely to be knowledgeable about survival.
"It's important for women to be able to do what we call a high-quality decision-making process. That would mean that the decision needs to be well-informed, based on an accurate knowledge of the risks and benefits of the options, and it also needs to be based on their preferences. If women do not make an informed decision, they're more likely to be dissatisfied down the road with the treatment they received," Hawley says.
The researchers did find, however, that patients who said their surgeon described both treatment options more often had adequate knowledge. The findings indicate that not all patients are clearly understanding information their surgeons may be telling them. The researchers urge surgeons to make sure they communicate information about treatment options, including survival and recurrence risks, during the initial visit in a way that is culturally and ethnically appropriate.
The researchers also urge patients to be aware of their treatment options. "Be sure to ask questions of your surgeon and consider exploring other avenues for getting information," Hawley says.
Breast cancer statistics: 184,450 Americans will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year and 40,930 will die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society
Methodology: The researchers surveyed 1,132 women recently diagnosed with breast cancer in the Detroit and Los Angeles
|Contact: Nicole Fawcett|
University of Michigan Health System