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Women’s experiences and preferences regarding breast imaging after completing breast cancer treatment

Authors Brandzel S, Rosenberg DE, Johnson D, Bush M, Kerlikowske K, Onega T, Henderson L, Nekhlyudov L, DeMartini W, Wernli KJ

Received 13 September 2016

Accepted for publication 27 December 2016

Published 1 February 2017 Volume 2017:11 Pages 199—204

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/PPA.S122244

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Akshita Wason

Peer reviewer comments 5

Editor who approved publication: Dr Johnny Chen

Susan Brandzel,1 Dori E Rosenberg,1 Dianne Johnson,1 Mary Bush,1 Karla Kerlikowske,2–5 Tracy Onega,6,7 Louise Henderson,8 Larissa Nekhlyudov,9,10 Wendy DeMartini,11 Karen J Wernli1

1Group Health Research Institute, Group Health Cooperative, Seattle, WA, 2Department of Medicine, 3Department of Epidemiology, 4Department of Biostatistics, 5Department of Veterans Affairs, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, 6Department of Biomedical Data Science, 7Department of Epidemiology, Norris Cotton Cancer Center, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, Lebanon, NH, 8Department of Radiology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, 9Department of Population Medicine, Harvard Medical School, 10Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA, 11Department of Radiology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA

Background: After treatment for breast cancer, most women receive an annual surveillance mammography to look for subsequent breast cancers. Supplemental breast MRI is sometimes used in addition to mammography despite the lack of clinical evidence for it. Breast imaging after cancer treatment is an emotionally charged experience, an important part of survivorship care, and a topic about which limited patient information exists. We assessed women’s experiences and preferences about breast cancer surveillance imaging with the goal of determining where gaps in care and knowledge could be filled.
Participants and methods:
We conducted six focus groups with a convenience sample of 41 women in California, North Carolina, and New Hampshire (USA). Participants were aged 38–75 years, had experienced stage 0–III breast cancer within the previous 5 years, and had completed initial treatment. We used inductive thematic analysis to identify key themes from verbatim transcripts.
Results: Women reported various types and frequencies of surveillance imaging and a range of surveillance imaging experiences and preferences. Many women experienced discomfort during breast imaging and anxiety related to the examination, primarily because they feared subsequent cancer detection. Women reported trust in their providers and relied on providers for imaging decision-making. However, women wanted more information about the treatment surveillance transition to improve their care.
Conclusion: There is significant opportunity in breast cancer survivorship care to improve women’s understanding about breast cancer surveillance imaging and to provide enhanced support to them at the time their initial treatment ends and at the time of surveillance imaging examinations.

Keywords: breast cancer surveillance, mammography, breast MRI, cancer survivorship, oncology

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