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Many Women Feel Left Out of Decisions on Breast Cancer Care

THURSDAY, March 11, 2021 -- There is significant divergence between patients', nurses', and surgeons' perceptions of breast cancer treatment knowledge, according to a letter to the editor published online Feb. 11 in the British Journal of Surgery.

Stephen Whyte, Ph.D., from the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, and colleagues surveyed 53 specialist breast surgeons, 101 breast care nurses, and 689 former or current patients with breast cancer to assess the duration of first consultation, level of knowledge of the individuals involved, and level of involvement of each party in the final choice of therapy.

The researchers found that self-assessed knowledge differed by surgeon, nurse, and patient in the expected order, with the perception of patients' knowledge not differing significantly between patients and surgeons (difference, 5.6 percent) or surgeons and nurses (difference, 5.2 percent). Patients' perception of time spent with the plastic surgeon or nurse, on average, fell between the estimates of the surgeon and nurse participants. Patients' perception of their involvement in the decision-making process differed considerably from the surgeon and nurse participants' perception of patient involvement.

"This descriptive analysis relating to perceived onus of choice of breast reconstruction indicated that a large proportion of women feel or believe that their surgeon effectively made a decision on their behalf when it came to their reconstruction," the authors write.

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