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Breast Cancer Patients More Satisfied with Specialists

Specialized surgeons whose practices focus largely on breast disease get higher satisfaction scores

MONDAY, Aug. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Breast cancer patients treated by surgeons who treat a high percentage of breast cancer cases are more satisfied with the decision-making process than those treated at low-volume practices, according to the results of a study published in the Aug. 20 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Jennifer Waljee, M.D., of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues surveyed 1,539 women who underwent breast cancer surgery in 2002 in Detroit and Los Angeles. Researchers measured four dimensions of patient satisfaction and surveyed 318 associated surgeons on percentage of their practice devoted to breast cancer.

The women reported more satisfaction with the decision-making process if they were treated at a medium-volume (30 to 60 percent breast cancer patients) or high-volume practice (more than 60 percent) rather than a low-volume practice (less than 30 percent). They also tended to be more satisfied with the patient-surgeon relationship (odds ratio, 1.13 at medium-volume; 1.98 at high-volume practices).

"Increasing surgeon specialization in breast disease may improve patient satisfaction with important elements of their breast cancer care, such as decision making and patient-provider communications," the authors write. "In fact, patient demand may achieve this aim and recent findings suggest that patients self-refer to more-experienced surgeons."

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