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Older breast cancer patients poorly informed

Most postmenopausal women with early breast cancer are not given enough information to make informed treatment choices, say experts.

A survey of 574 postmenopausal women with early breast cancer was carried out in nine European countries. All women were undergoing postsurgical endocrine therapy.

Women were asked how well they understood adjuvant endocrine therapy, their risk of recurrence and how involved they were in making treatment decisions.

Of the women surveyed, 96% said their health provider was their main source of information.

However, only 25% said they were told their risk of cancer recurrence, less than 50% were made aware of treatment options and nearly 33% did not receive data about possible side-effects.

Two out of five women reported that they were not at all involved in the decision to start endocrine therapy.

Yvonne Wengstrom, President of the European Oncology Nursing Society, said that the "information needs of women receiving adjuvant endocrine therapy are not being met."

She adds: "It is alarming that many women were not even told about available treatment choices to reduce their risk of recurrence."

Ingrid Kossler, President of the European Breast Cancer Coalition, commented: "There is clearly a knowledge divide among breast cancer patients, and we must develop new solutions to address the needs of older and less-educated women."

The Breast