Are Breast Cancer Patients Basing Treatment Decisions on Incomplete Information?

A new study, led by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, Harvard University, and Aetna Insurance, found that one of every five women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer are not given test results that identified their risk of breast cancer reoccurring. Some 90 percent of women in the study said they knew they were genetically tested but 20 percent stated they did not know the results. The results of this testing can be valuable information for patients as they consider treatments such as chemotherapy. The authors state that chemotherapy has “no added value for those with a low risk.”

The study found that 7 percent of the women who were shown to have a low risk of breast cancer recurrence underwent chemotherapy. The percentage of minority women, deemed at low risk of breast cancer recurrence, who under went chemotherapy was as high as 15 percent.

Ninez+PonceNinez Ponce, a professor of public health and associate director of the Center for Health Policy Research at UCLA and a co-author of the study, said that “no one should have to go through the stress and discomfort of chemo without understanding the personal risks and benefits. At the very least, patients should know their options. Right now, some women may be making treatment decisions based on incomplete information.”

Professor Ponce is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. She holds a master’s degree from Harvard University and a Ph.D. from UCLA.

The report, Missed Opportunity? Twenty Percent of Breast Cancer Patients Don’t Know Their Recurrence Risk Status, can be downloaded here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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