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Treating ESBC is very complicated and involves input on patient preferences and values. However, many other issues also come into play in treatment decisions. The researchers note that this is an area that has not been well investigated and clinicians have had to primarily rely on quantitative studies examining factors that influence therapy decisions. In addition, these studies have been mostly limited to chart or database reviews and largely retrospective.

Dr Gu said thematic maps can be used as educational tools to help women better understand what the clinical data do and do not show among women opting for mastectomy over BCT and vice versa. “The thematic maps are also a clean and simple visual aid that can be used in nursing education. Although these maps were created for only women with ESBC, they can be used as an example of the complexities that patient’s may face with decision-making in the setting of cancer,” explained Dr Gu.

Dr Gu said much more work in this area is warranted and the team is engaging in a province-wide survey as the second phase of their study.

John Schieszer is a medical writer based in Seattle, Washington. 


1. Gu J, Groot G, Holtslander L, et al. Understanding women’s choice of mastectomy  versus breast conserving therapy in early-stage breast cancer [published online February 23, 2017]. Clin Med Insights Oncol. doi: 10.1177/1179554917691266