Choices in cancer treatment: a qualitative study of the older women's (>70 years) perspective.

HUSAIN, L. S., COLLINS, K., REED, M. and WYLD, L. (2008). Choices in cancer treatment: a qualitative study of the older women's (>70 years) perspective. Psycho-oncology, 17 (4), 410-416.

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Purpose: Primary endocrine therapy (PET) is the treatment of primary, operable breast cancer with drugs, such as tamoxifen, rather than surgery. It is in widespread use in the UK with 40% of women over 70 years old being treated in this way. PET is associated with inferior rates of local control compared with the standard surgical therapies, but there is no difference in the overall survival. There has been no published research regarding the attitudes of older women concerning these two alternative approaches to treatment; what may influence their treatment choice or their experience of either treatment modality. This study aimed to address these questions.

Method: In-depth qualitative interviews were undertaken to explore the views of a group of 21 purposively selected older women (470 years old), who had been treated by PET or surgery for breast cancer. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using the Framework Analysis.

Results: Both surgery and PET were well tolerated and had high satisfaction ratings from most women. This was the case even for those who had complications following surgery or needed a change of management in the PET group. Older women expressed no age-specific fears for operative procedures. The women were passive information seekers and relied heavily on ‘expert’ advice in making their treatment choices. Neither social support or age were factors in their decision-making. Their main concern was to ensure that the quality of life and independence remained unaffected.

Conclusion: Older women have no strong preference for either treatment option but are concerned that the treatment is effective and causes minimal disruption to their quality of life and independence. This study suggests that medical consultations may need to be adapted to reflect the passive acceptance of ‘expert’ advice in the majority of women in this age group.

Item Type: Article
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Centre for Health and Social Care Research
Identification Number:
Page Range: 410-416
Depositing User: Karen Collins
Date Deposited: 01 Apr 2010 14:16
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 21:30

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