Breast Cancer Preferences Study

Womens’ views and preferences around breast cancer referral.

Background and aims

In 2012, it was reported that 30.5% of cancers in Irish women were due to breast cancer, making it the most common cancer in Irish women. Levels of referral to specialist breast clinics have increased over the past number of years, from 23,575 referrals in 2006 to 37,631 referrals in 2010. However, over the same period, breast cancer incidence has remained relatively consistent. This suggests that more women are being exposed to potentially harmful investigations without any benefit.

Research indicates that many women do not have accurate knowledge of the risk of breast cancer or the physical and emotional consequences of diagnostic testing and treatment. This suggests that women may not be making fully informed decisions when choosing to go for further testing if they present with signs or symptoms of suspected breast cancer.

This study aims to find out participants preferences about referral to a breast cancer clinic compared to watchful waiting using decision analysis. Decision analysis is a method for formally evaluating specific outcomes caused by clinical decision-making. This information will be used in future research to develop a decision aid, which may be used with participants to help them make decisions about the type of care that is best for them.

What to expect if you take part
You will be asked questions which will include information about basic demographics and knowledge about breast cancer. This is just to get a baseline of your breast cancer knowledge; it does not matter if you get them wrong or right. You will be asked to imagine 11 possible outcomes after attending your GP with symptoms of breast cancer. Using decision analysis techniques your preferences will be elicited for the health states. The interview should take approximately 30 minutes.

What is the benefit of taking part in this study
It is unlikely that this study will benefit you directly. However, it is hoped that this study will change the way in which GPs refer participants with symptoms of breast cancer based on participant’s individual preferences. This could lead to higher patient satisfaction with the referral decision and a decrease in the number of referrals to symptomatic breast clinics.