Misunderstanding Prognosis and Test Results

17 January 2017 A study recently published in the Journal of Oncology Practice noted that patients with incurable breast cancer often have poor awareness of their prognosis after oncologist discussion of scan results. The researchers analyzed audio recordings of conversations between patients and oncologists. They found that oncologists tended to spend more time discussing treatment recommendations rather than scan results…

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ASBrS Issues CPM Consensus Statment

During the April 2016 meeting of the American Society of Breast Surgeons (ASBrS), a consensus conference was held to discuss contralateral prophylactic mastectomy (CPM). CPM is the removal of the healthy, opposite breast, and the rates of CPM have been increasing, for various reasons. A patient’s decision to undergo a CPM is very difficult and is unique to each individual with breast cancer.…

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What Do Patients Prefer?

21 June 2016 Originally posted on the BCSM.org website In October, we solicited input a research survey designed to identify how patients prefer to be notified of a new cancer diagnosis and cancer-related test results. The results were presented at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Breast Surgeons in April. The full manuscript – What Do Patients Prefer? Understanding…

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Media Reporting on Celebrity Breast Cancer

20 April 2016 I’ve written about the “celebrity effect” before –  misinformation disseminated by public features that subsequently influences patient decision making. A new study published in the Annals of Surgical Oncology notes that the celebrity effect extends to media coverage as well. The authors evaluated media coverage of celebrity breast cancer stories. They found that since 2004, celebrity breast…

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The Final (???) Word on Screening Mammography

17 January 2016 In October 2015, the American Cancer Society (ACS) updated their screening mammography guidelines, raising a lot of questions and concerns as annual mammograms were no longer recommended for all women starting at age 40. The United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) released new guidelines on screening mammography last week. The new USPSTF guidelines recommend an individualized risk-based approach for women age…

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To Screen or Not To Screen?

14 January 2016 Does cancer screening save lives? A study published in the British Medical Journal study noted that while many studies of cancer screenings report decreased cancer-specific mortality rates, the benchmark should be overall mortality rates, and this has not been consistently demonstrated. The 15 minute podcast is worth a listen. The lead author, Dr. Vinay Prasad, is not arguing…

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Reporting of Chemotherapy-Related Side Effects

27 December 2015 Patients undergoing chemotherapy for cancer frequently experience side effects. These are normally recorded by physicians and nurses using standardized scoring systems. In a study reported in JAMA Oncology, researchers compared these physician-reported adverse effects with patient-reported side effects and toxicity. They found that physicians and nurses frequently under-estimated the frequency and severity of treatment-related side effects. In the…

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Am I Cancer Free?

11 December 2015 This past week, two well known public figures made announcements regarding their cancer. The actress Rita Wilson, who underwent a bilateral mastectomy in March, stated that “I am cancer free” and “100% healthy”. Former President Jimmy Carter, who is being treated for melanoma with metastasis to his liver and brain, announced that on a recent scan, “they didn’t find any cancer…

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New Patient Information Website

  9 November 2015 The American Society of Breast Surgeons has just launched a patient information website – Breast360.org. The site was developed by breast surgeons, and patient advocates have had input and oversight during the entire process. Please take a look, and feel free to provide feedback if you have a suggestion for additional content. DISCLAIMER: Dr. Attai does not…

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If It Sounds Too Good To Be True…

29 October 2015 We’ve all seen the headlines noting a “blockbuster” or “groundbreaking” new drug for cancer treatment. It can be very difficult to sort out whether or not the hype is indicated. A study published in JAMA Oncology evaluated how news articles described new cancer medications. They evaluated the use of the superlative terms “breakthrough”, “game changer”, “miracle”, “cure”,…

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