Women Not Well Informed About Treatments

Photo: Breast cancer cell

Even after surgery, women remain
unsure of breast cancer survival
rates; © NCI Visuals Online

According to a new study, however, only half of women clearly understand survival rates associated with these procedures, and minority women are even less likely to have adequate information. Even after going through the treatment process, many women do not understand the risks and benefits, said lead author Sarah Hawley, Ph.D.

The study looked at 1,132 women from Detroit and Los Angeles who had undergone surgical treatment for ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) or invasive but not metastatic breast cancer. The women reported their race and ethnicity, knowledge of survival and recurrence, and cancer topics they discussed with their surgeons, who the study also surveyed. Only 51 percent of women knew that a mastectomy and a lumpectomy plus radiation had the same five-year survival rate. 48 percent of women reported not knowing whether cancer recurrence rates were the same for mastectomy as they were for a lumpectomy with radiation.

“Overall, women were not generally well informed about the risks and benefits of the treatment that they received,” said Hawley, a research assistant professor in the University of Michigan Health System and research investigator at the Ann Arbor VA Healthcare System. Women who said that their surgeons discussed both treatment options did know more about survival and recurrence rates, but minority women still lagged in survival and recurrence knowledge, Hawley said.

However, Leah Karliner, M.D., an assistant professor of medicine at the University of California San Francisco said that the findings are only associations and that readers cannot draw cause-and-effect conclusions about the results. “Women’s knowledge after they have already received their surgical treatment may not accurately reflect their knowledge at the time they decided on that treatment,” she said.

MEDICA.de; Source: Health Behavior News Service