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Title: Surgeons' Knowledge and Practices Regarding the Role of Radiation Therapy in Breast Cancer Management

Purpose: Population-based studies suggest underuse of radiation therapy, especially after mastectomy. Because radiation oncology is a referral-based specialty, knowledge and attitudes of upstream providers, specifically surgeons, may influence patients' decisions regarding radiation, including whether it is even considered. Therefore, we sought to evaluate surgeons' knowledge of pertinent risk information, their patterns of referral, and the correlates of surgeon knowledge and referral in specific breast cancer scenarios. Methods and Materials: We surveyed a national sample of 750 surgeons, with a 67% response rate. We analyzed responses from those who had seen at least 1 breast cancer patient in the past year (n=403), using logistic regression models to identify correlates of knowledge and appropriate referral. Results: Overall, 87% of respondents were general surgeons, and 64% saw >10 breast cancer patients in the previous year. In a scenario involving a 45-year-old undergoing lumpectomy, only 45% correctly estimated the risk of locoregional recurrence without radiation therapy, but 97% would refer to radiation oncology. In a patient with 2 of 20 nodes involved after mastectomy, 30% would neither refer to radiation oncology nor provide accurate information to make radiation decisions. In a patient with 4 of 20 nodes involved after mastectomy, 9% would not refermore » to radiation oncology. Fewer than half knew that the Oxford meta-analysis revealed a survival benefit from radiation therapy after lumpectomy (45%) or mastectomy (32%). Only 16% passed a 7-item knowledge test; female and more-experienced surgeons were more likely to pass. Factors significantly associated with appropriate referral to radiation oncology included breast cancer volume, tumor board participation, and knowledge. Conclusions: Many surgeons have inadequate knowledge regarding the role of radiation in breast cancer management, especially after mastectomy. Targeted educational interventions may improve the quality of care.« less
 [1] ;  [2] ; ;  [3] ;  [4] ;  [5] ;  [3] ;  [1]
  1. Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan (United States)
  2. Department of Biostatistics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan (United States)
  3. Department of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan (United States)
  4. Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, Michigan (United States)
  5. Department of Surgery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology and Physics; Journal Volume: 87; Journal Issue: 5; Other Information: Copyright (c) 2013 Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam, The Netherlands, All rights reserved.; Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States