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Friends, family influence breast cancer treatment decision

Category: Breast

For women newly diagnosed with breast cancer, consultation with a friend or family member over the options for treatment likely plays a pivotal role in the woman's decision, new research suggests.

A study conducted at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center determined that approximately three out of every four women who have recently been unfavorably diagnosed after breast cancer testing bring a companion with them on their first visit to a surgeon – a detail which evidently influences the patient's consideration of her treatment options.

The researchers found that, according to a survey of women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer in Detroit and Los Angeles, patients accompanied by a friend or family member were more likely to choose treatment by mastectomy than women who attend the appointment alone.

A mastectomy involves removing the entire breast, whereas the less invasive therapy option entails extracting only the tumor and administering radiation treatments.

"Family and friends have a potentially important role in treatment discussions," commented Dr Sarah Hawley, lead study author. "We want to ensure a woman's decision is high quality, which means it's based on accurate knowledge about treatment risks and benefits and is consistent with the underlying values of the patient."

The study appeared online Aug. 31 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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