Nearly one-third of women with breast cancer went against their doctor’s advice and chose not to begin or complete the recommended adjuvant anti-cancer therapy to kill residual tumor cells following surgery, according to a study led by a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health researcher.
A survey that included 2,754 breast cancer patients in Florida and Pennsylvania during a two-year period found that this “treatment discordance” – not following a doctor’s recommended treatment plan in its entirety – was more likely among patients who reported a general distrust of medical institutions and insurers. The patients’ trust or distrust of their own doctors did not seem to be a factor.
Small studies in the past have found that some patients refuse their doctors’ advice and choose not to undergo or complete adjuvant therapy after breast cancer surgery. The new study, published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, is by far the largest evaluation of this issue, and suggests that the avoidance of adjuvant therapy is significant and is linked to a general distrust in the healthcare system.