Many Breast Cancer Patients Don’t Understand Their Disease


A new study found that many breast cancer patients do not fully understand their disease. If you have questions about cancer be sure to ask your doctor so you can be fully informed.

A study, published online in the journal Cancer, found that many women with breast cancer do not understand their condition. What's more, minority patients are less likely to know about the characteristics of their tumor than white women.

The study was conducted at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Researchers asked 500 women who have breast cancer about their stage, receptor status and grade of the disease. About 32 to 82 percent of the patients said they knew these three terms were characteristics of their tumors, and only 20 to 58 percent could specify say what they were. 

There was also a clear difference in knowledge by race, with individuals of Hispanic or black decent knowing less than the study's white participants. The report states that the discrepancy with Hispanic women could be because of a language barrier. Black women's lack of knowledge, however, was not as easily explained.

This study was the first of its kind, and researchers hope that they have clearly identified a need to provide better patient information and education, especially for individuals of color. 

Some women are afraid to ask questions of their doctor. Do not hesitate to ask your physician about your disease. In order to make an informed decision about treatment is is necessary to fully understand exactly what type of cancer you have. If you are nervous about asking your doctor what some of the more complicated cancer terms mean, check out resources that explain – there are plenty of internet resources that can fully flesh out what each term means.

Talking with other cancer survivors can also be a helpful resource when it comes to understanding the disease. They have been there or are in similar situations to what you are going through and can offer valuable insight into the disease.

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