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Doctors' Personal Experience of Breast Cancer May Impact Care

Physicians with social network member with poor prognosis more likely to recommend screening

breast cancer ribbon

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 6, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Physicians who report a social network member with a poor breast cancer prognosis are more likely to recommend routine breast cancer screening for younger and older age groups, according to a research letter published online Dec. 4 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Craig Evan Pollack, M.D., from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues examined whether physician experiences with patients, friends, colleagues, and family members diagnosed with breast cancer correlated with their breast cancer screening recommendations. Data were included from a sample of 848 physicians.

The researchers found that of the social network members, 18.6 percent had poor prognosis, and more than half of these had not been diagnosed by screening. The likelihood of recommending screening for women aged 40 to 44 years and those aged 75 years or older was increased for physicians who reported at least one social network member with a poor prognosis who was not diagnosed by screening, compared to those who did not report a social network member in this category (probability for women aged 40 to 44 years: 92.7 versus 85.6 percent; for women ≥75 years: 84.0 versus 68.3 percent). There was no variation in this association by the type of social network member.

"Helping clinicians reflect on how their experiences influence their current screening patterns may be an important approach to improve adherence to revised breast cancer screening guidelines," the authors write.

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