Researchers from the Hamilton Regional Cancer Centre in Ontario have found that adding a simple interactive decision tool to traditional medical consultation can help women with lymph-node negative breast cancer make informed choices regarding adjuvant chemotherapy.
Communication during cancer consultation can often be difficult as patients are often understandably distressed and doctors have to communicate complicated information.
The “Decision Board” is used to help physicians clearly present the different treatment options including information about what is entailed with each, associated treatment outcomes and probabilities of those outcomes, as well as quality of life issues.
A study using this new decision tool involved 176 women with lymph node-negative breast cancer being exposed to medical consultation including the Decision Board or to medical consultation alone. The results showed that women who used the decision board with medical were better informed about their disease and adjuvant chemotherapy (p < 0.001), and their individual risk of cancer recurrence compared to those who received medical consultation alone. They also reported greater satisfaction with the decision-making process (p = 0.032). The Decision Board did not appear to have any bad side-effects such as increasing patient anxiety despite the communication of explicit information and the length of the consultation. (Source: Journal of the National Cancer Institute 2003;95: 581-587.)