With the increasing number of options now available for numerous cancers, many patients are being offered choices by their physician. Of course, choice is a fine thing, but the price of progress may also mean more confusion, at least initially.
Busy doctors do not always take time to explain the what the differences between the various options might mean, both in terms of efficacy and survival as well as potential side effects.
Two cancers where there are a lot of different, but often similar, options are breast and ovarian cancers. The challenge for patients is in grasping the complexity and enormity of the choices, especially if they have just been diagnosed and may not be best placed emotionally to handle such a major decision.
A recent study found that women felt “confused” and “abandoned” by their doctor in presenting too many options without any real commentary to place the information in context in their terms.
Ultimately, providing more information is a step in the right direction, but it should always be tempered with a real awareness of:
a) how much patients can handle and
b) in appropriate context regarding the consequences of such choices.
Caveat emptor is sadly still true today for many patients and the burden of researching their treatment is only increasing, rather than getting any easier.