Practical Questions About Breast Cancer Treatment Patients Should Ask
Practical Questions About Breast Cancer Treatment Patients Should Ask from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.
Breast cancer patients and healthcare providers can be partners in care, but what’s important to discuss? Expert Dr. Demetria Smith-Graziani explains information that she presents to patients and shares common questions that patients ask.
Demetria Smith-Graziani, MD, MPH is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology at Emory University School of Medicine. Learn more about Dr. Smith-Graziani.
“…ask why a particular treatment is recommended, what the evidence is behind it, ask about the potential side effects and then ask about how the different treatment options compare if you’re given multiple options.”
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How do you work with your patients to make treatment decisions? With increasing treatment options, what should breast cancer patients consider when deciding on treatments?
Dr. Demetria Smith-Graziani:
So it’s important that patients are really informed about all of their options, so what I tend to do is review the details of diagnosis and staging, and then after we review that I provide recommendations based on the national guidelines, and then I also provide recommendations for potential clinical trials that are available at our institution that may be a good fit for the patient, and then we discuss the potential risks and benefits of each option as well as how long each treatment will last and how it might affect their daily lives.
I think that sometimes patients don’t always know what questions to ask, so I tend to suggest questions that I’ve heard in the past from other patients, and I think a lot of what patients want to know in addition to potential side effects are how long is my treatment meaning how long am I going to have to stay in the infusion center if I’m getting an IV medication? Or how many months of treatment do I need to get?
And then how much time do I need to take off of work? Am I going to be able to work while getting my treatment, so it’s those little things which aren’t so little that are important to discuss, so that the patients can get the best overall picture about how each treatment will affect them in the short and the long term, so my activation tip for patients is ask why a particular treatment is recommended, what the evidence is behind it, ask about the potential side effects and then ask about how the different treatment options compare if you’re given multiple options.