The family member or friend that a newly diagnosed breast cancer patient brings with her - not what she’s being told by a surgeon - may play a bigger role in the kind of surgery she ends up choosing, a newly published University of Michigan study found.Â
Researchers from U-M’s Comprehensive Cancer Center looked at the decision many patients make between a mastectomy, which removes the entire breast, or a lumpectomy, which is a breast-conserving surgery to remove a tumor that's followed by radiation treatment.Â
In the study of more than 1,600 women in Detroit and Los Angeles, about three-quarters of women brought a loved one with them to the first visit with the doctor. And the women who brought a friend or family member were more likely to receive a mastectomy.
When the patient is driving the decision of which surgery to have, patients along all racial and ethnic groups were more likely to choose a mastectomy. Latina women who speak little or no English were most likely to be influenced by family in their decision.Â
Concern about cancer recurrence, body image and the effects of radiation were also factors in a woman’s decision about surgery, the study concluded.
The study is set to be published online in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
“Clearly, others help withâ€¨ and contribute to decision making, and may do so differently for â€¨different racial or ethnic groups,” lead study author Sarahâ€¨ Hawley, research associate professor of internal medicineâ€¨ at the U-M Medical School, said in a release.â€¨â€¨ “We want to ensure a woman’s decision is high-quality, which meansâ€¨ it’s based on accurate knowledge about treatment risks and benefits â€¨and is consistent with the underlying values of the patient.”
The researchers plan to use their work to create a tool to help patients with decision-making.Â