A new study has revealed that many women with breast cancer do not have proper knowledge about their illness. It also suggests that some patients even fail to report the exact characteristics of their tumors. The study has been detailed in the journal CANCER. Through the study, the researchers have emphasized the need of educating the patients properly about their health conditions so that they can have better treatment options. The researchers also suggest that discussions about cancers with individual patients play a significant role in tailoring appropriate treatments.
The general cancer knowledge among women has been examined previously but this is the first study to analyze the detailed knowledge and understanding of women about their own cancers. 500 women with breast cancer were surveyed by the lead study author Rachel Freedman, MD, MPH, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and colleagues to analyze the knowledge of the participants about their own cancers, which included the stage of the tumor, grade and receptor status. According to the results, about 32 percent to 82 percent of the participants stated that they knew about the characteristics of their tumor whereas only 20 percent to 58 percent actually knew about their characteristics correctly.
The probability of Black and Hispanic women knowing about their cancer characteristics was found to be lower as compared to white women. Dr. Freedman stated “Results illustrate the lack of understanding many patients have about their cancers and have identified a critical need for improved patient education and provider awareness of this issue.” Dr. Freedman further added “Improving patients’ understanding about why a particular treatment is important for her individual situation may lead to more informed decisions and better adherence to treatment.” Lacking knowledge about the features of one’s tumor is not necessarily associated with worse outcomes but with better knowledge women can understand treatment decisions and take proper medications.