How did you make your breast cancer surgery decision?

Image: abcnews

Image: abcnews

I have just been reading the results of a  new study which shows that about three-quarters of women newly diagnosed with breast cancer have a friend or family member with them at their first visit with a surgeon who plays a significant role in the patient’s decision of what type of surgery to have.

According to the study from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, when the patient, rather than the doctor, drives the surgery decision, the patient is more likely to choose a mastectomy. 

The study to be published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, also found that women who had a friend or family member accompany them to the surgical consultation were more likely to receive a mastectomy, compared to women who attended the appointment alone.

Researchers also found that factors such as concern about cancer recurrence, body image and the effects of radiation impacted a woman’s surgery decision. Women who said that concerns about recurrence or radiation were very important in their surgical treatment decision-making were more likely to choose mastectomy, while women very concerned about body image were more likely to have breast conserving surgery.

The researchers plan to develop a decision tool to help women and their families understand the surgical decision, and future studies will look at the issues important to patients and their spouses around decision making.

 I would certainly welcome such a decision making tool. Making decisions about treatment options when you are already in shock at the news of a diagnosis is extremely stressful. How did you come to make your own decision? Did a family member or friend influence that decision? Let us know what you think.


Reference: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Vol. 101, No. 19, Oct. 7, 2009; published online ahead of print Aug. 31, 2009

Source: University of Michigan Health System