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Emotional well-being in patients who make treatment choices

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Women with breast cancer want to be involved in decisions about their treatment but a new study shows that the extent to which they participate varies considerably between North America and Europe. Professor Lesley Degner from the University of Manitoba, Canada, has found that Canadian women preferred to take an active or collaborative role with their physicians in treatment decision making, whereas women in England and Sweden were more likely to want their doctors to make the decisions for them.

Speaking at the European Society for Medical Oncology Congress in Nice today (18 October 2002), Professor Degner described the surprising results that emerged in a series of studies of several hundred cancer patients, designed to improve communication between patients and health care providers. "Ironically, we found that women who wished to remain passive in the decision-making were most likely to get their own way because physicians would make their treatment decisions for them," she said. The patients least likely to achieve their preferred roles in decision-making were those who wanted to make the decisions themselves. Professor Degner studied groups of women with breast cancer and men with prostate cancer.

The women in Canada tend to regard their illness as more positive, as a challenge or having some value, whereas women in Europe have a more negative attitude. As a result, the Canadians tend to fare better emotionally and socially, experiencing less depression than European women. Data from men in Canada with prostate cancer also shows that they want to take an active ro
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Contact: Gracemarie Bricalli
gracemarie@esmo.org
0041-91-973-1911
European Society for Medical Oncology
18-Oct-2002


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