Second Opinions Can Change More than Half of Treatment in Breast Cancer

Cancer Connect

According to an article recently published in the journal Cancer, a second opinion from a multidisciplinary cancer clinic changed treatment management in more than half of patients with breast cancer.

Over 200,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer annually in the United States. Treatment of breast cancer often involves a combination of pathology, radiology, medical oncology, and surgery. At multidisciplinary cancer clinics, pathologists, radiologists, surgeons, and medical oncologists work together to determine optimal treatment options. Patients with breast cancer are often referred to a multidisciplinary cancer clinic so that they may receive treatment from all appropriate specialists.

Researchers from Michigan recently conducted a study to evaluate potential changes in treatment choices among breast cancer patients who were referred to a multidisciplinary cancer clinic by their physician. This study included 149 patients who had been referred to a multidisciplinary breast cancer clinic during a one-year period. Their records regarding treatment plans were reviewed to evaluate changes from their original treatment plans.

  • Changes in imaging studies occurred in 45% of patients.
  • Pathologic results were changed in 29% of patients.
  • After a second evaluation from a multidisciplinary oncology team, changes in recommendations for surgical management in patients occurred in 52% of patients.

The researchers concluded that second opinions from a multidisciplinary cancer clinic result in changes of treatment management in more than half of patients with breast cancer. The authors stated, “Multidisciplinary review can provide patients with useful additional information when making difficult treatment decisions.”

Patients diagnosed with breast cancer may wish to speak with their physician regarding referral to a multidisciplinary cancer clinic.

Reference: Newman E, Guest A, Helvie M, et al. Changes in Surgical Management Resulting from Case Review at a Breast Cancer Multidisciplinary Tumor Board. Cancer. 2006; 107:2346 – 2351.

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