Patient Concerns and Treatment Decisions Are Impacted by Disease Stage

October 15, 2019

When making treatment decisions in breast cancer, patient concerns about how each treatment will affect their daily life — and their disease stage — have an important role to play, according to Dr. Sara Hurvitz.

When making treatment decisions in breast cancer, patient concerns about how each treatment will affect their daily life — and their disease stage — have an important role to play, according to Dr. Sara Hurvitz.

In an interview with CURE®, Hurvitz, an associate professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, gave examples from her own practice to illustrate how many patients will weigh their treatment options and how much toxicity they’re willing to take on based on their disease stage.

Transcript:

Patient concerns are always important when making treatment recommendations. I would say it’s equally important to what the clinician feels the patient should go on, (along with) concerns about toxicity, how it will impact their day-to-day life (and) concerns about whether or not a given drug is actually going to extend their survival or improve their symptoms from their cancer.

I’ve noticed with my own patients that, often, a patient’s concern about side effects differs based on what stage of disease they have. For example, often a patient who is symptomatic from metastatic breast cancer is going to be much more willing to take on a little bit of toxicity in order to get the disease under control and to feel better from the cancer. On the other hand, a patient with early stage disease who doesn’t have any visible cancer in her body might be more affected by troubling side effects from a pill that she’s required to take for five or 10 years. And that may be harder for the patient to tolerate.

So, I think it’s important for us as clinicians to elicit from our patients: What are the main concerns that you have regarding a given therapy? What are your goals? What are you doing in your day-to-day life, and how might the therapies that we are offering you impact your ability to function and to achieve the goals that you have set for yourself?


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