Association of Breast Cancer Knowledge With Receipt of Guideline-Recommended Breast Cancer Treatment

J Oncol Pract. 2016 Jun;12(6):e613-25. doi: 10.1200/JOP.2015.008508. Epub 2016 May 10.


Purpose: Knowledge about one's breast cancer characteristics is poor, but whether this knowledge affects treatment is uncertain. Among women with breast cancer, we examined whether tumor knowledge was associated with adjuvant treatment receipt.

Methods: We surveyed a population-based sample of women in Northern California with stage 0 to III breast cancer diagnosed during 2010 to 2011 (participation rate, 68.5%). Interviews were conducted between 4 months and 3 years after diagnosis. Among 414 respondents with stage I to III disease, we examined receipt of guideline-recommended chemotherapy, radiation, and hormonal therapy by reporting correct information about one's tumor, including stage, estrogen receptor, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), and grade (using registry data for confirmation). We performed multivariate logistic regression to assess the probability of receiving each treatment in relevant patient groups, adjusting for patient and tumor characteristics, and examined the impact of reporting correct tumor information on treatment receipt.

Results: Among relevant treatment-eligible groups, 81% received chemotherapy, 91% received radiation, and 83% received hormonal therapy. In adjusted analyses, having correct (v incorrect) information for stage and HER2 were associated with chemotherapy receipt (odds ratio [OR], 4.45; 95% CI, 1.50 to 12.50 for stage; OR, 2.70; 95% CI, 1.02 to 7.18 for HER2). Correctly reporting estrogen receptor status was associated with hormonal therapy receipt (OR, 3.91; 95% CI, 1.73 to 8.86), and correctly reporting stage was associated with radiation receipt (OR, 2.76; 95% CI, 1.03 to 7.40).

Conclusion: Knowledge about one's tumor characteristics was strongly associated with receipt of recommended therapies. Interventions to improve patients' knowledge and understanding of their cancers should be tested as a strategy for improving receipt of care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Surveys and Questionnaires