Patients' Mistrust Affects Use of Breast Cancer Treatments

-- Jane Parry

Monday, September 21, 2009

MONDAY, Sept. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Women's negative attitudes toward treatment and mistrust of the medical delivery system are associated with underuse of adjuvant treatment for early-stage breast cancer, according to a study published online Sept. 21 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Nina A. Bickell, M.D., of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, and colleagues conducted a study of 258 women with early-stage breast cancer who had recently undergone surgical treatment, using a survey to find out about their understanding of breast cancer treatment and to chart data ascertaining what, if any, adjuvant treatment they received.

The researchers found that untreated women were less likely than treated women to know that adjuvant therapies increase survival. Untreated women also had greater mistrust and less self-efficacy. Women older than 70 years of age, those who had comorbidities, and those who distrusted the medical system were less likely to undergo adjuvant treatment, the investigators discovered.

"Despite physicians' discussions of breast cancer treatment options, patients continue to lack important knowledge about the treatments, although this is knowledge that is needed to make truly informed decisions," the authors write. "To reduce underuse of adjuvant therapies, all patients should be educated regarding the benefits and risks of treatment; improved patient knowledge may affect underuse of adjuvant therapy overall and is likely to have a particularly potent effect in older-age populations."

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