Some primary care doctors not prepared to help with cancer treatment decisions

IMAGE: Lauren Wallner, Ph.D., MPH. view more 

Credit: Michigan Medicine

ANN ARBOR, Michigan –The idea of team-based cancer care most often focuses on involving primary care physicians in the care of cancer survivors. But research has shown patients are discussing initial cancer treatment options with their primary care doctors.

And now a new study finds that a significant number of these physicians report notable gaps in their knowledge of cancer treatment options.

“Primary care physicians may be involved in cancer care earlier than we thought. If we are going to promote their involvement, we may need to start doing that earlier, around the time of initial treatment, and ensure PCPs have the information they need to effectively participate in the decision-making process,” says Lauren P. Wallner, Ph.D., MPH, a health services researcher at the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center.

Wallner and colleagues from the Cancer Surveillance and Outcomes Research Team surveyed 517 primary care physicians who were linked to 1,077 women treated for early stage breast cancer. Physicians were asked whether they had discussed surgery, radiation or chemotherapy options with their patients. They were also asked how comfortable they were discussing these issues and whether they felt they


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