Patient’s relationships with their healthcare team can play a major role when it comes to planning medical procedures. In the setting of breast cancer surgeons can greatly influence surgical decision-making. This is particularly the case when it comes to breast reconstruction.
In the largest ever behavioral study focused on breast surgeons and breast cancer patients, results suggest surgeons play a bigger role in breast reconstruction planning than many patients would prefer. The study, published in the British Journal of Surgery, surveyed 53 surgeons, 101 breast cancer nurses, and 689 patients diagnosed with breast cancer.
According to the study, “approximately one in every three women (32%) stated their surgeon had more input than they did, when deciding which type of breast reconstruction to undergo.” Additionally, 16% of women felt they had zero input in the choice of reconstructive procedure they had. We find it very concerning that so many women in this study feel they played little to no role in deciding which type of breast reconstruction was best for them.
The Importance of Shared Decision-Making
This study is yet another example of why shared decision-making is so important, and why we created the Breast Advocate app!
We believe patients should be fully informed of all their breast reconstruction options, as well as the option of aesthetic flat closure (no reconstruction with a nicely-contoured, truly flat result). It is only once all the options are fully discussed, that patients can take part in a shared-decision-making conversation with their surgical team.
Shared decision-making occurs when the health care professional and patient work together to make a treatment decision that is best for the patient. The best decision takes into account evidence-based information about treatment options, the physician’s knowledge and experience, and the patient’s preferences and values. Multiple studies show this collaborative approach improves patient outcomes and satisfaction.
Co-created by leading breast cancer specialists and patient advocates, our free breast cancer surgery app provides evidence-based information and customized surgical recommendations, personalized for each individual user based on diagnosis and personal preferences. Regardless of an individual’s situation, users will have all the information and tools they need to take a more active role in decisions about their treatment.
Barbara Jacoby is an award winning blogger that has contributed her writings to multiple online publications that have touched readers worldwide.