Discussing Breast Cancer Options

Expert advice on discussing breast cancer options from the National Center for Policy Research for Women & Families.
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Q. "Should I decide what to do, or should I ask my doctor what I should do?"

A. Doctors and patients should openly discuss a patient's options, because both have an important perspective on the treatment advantages and disadvantages for a specific patient. It's important to remember that doctors don't always agree with each other, because a doctor's opinions may be affected by age, training, and other personal influences. For example, research shows that older doctors, male doctors, doctors working in community hospitals, and doctors in the South and Midwest are more likely to recommend mastectomies. Younger doctors, female doctors, doctors working at university medical centers, and doctors working in the Northeast are more likely to recommend lumpectomies. These differences are probably related to the kind of training a doctor has had.

It is important for you to feel comfortable discussing your preferences and participating in the decisions about your surgical treatment. Research shows that women are happier if they help make treatment decisions, rather than just following their doctor's recommendations.


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