Feb. 12 (UPI) -- Some doctors aren't prepared to give cancer patients basic information on how to treat the disease, new research shows.
Roughly 17 percent of doctors didn't have information on surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy treatment options for women who had early-stage breast cancer, according to a study published in the journal Cancer. In addition, 22 percent of doctors in the study reported they weren't comfortable talking to patients about those options.
"Primary care physicians may be involved in cancer care earlier than we thought," Lauren Wallner, a researcher at the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center and study author, said in a news release. "If we are going to promote their involvement, we may need to start doing that earlier, around the time of initial treatment, and ensure PCPs have the information they need to effectively participate in the decision-making process."
The study also showed that only 34 percent of the doctors had talked to their patients about surgery options, while 23 percent had explored radiation therapy and 22 percent had discussed chemotherapy.
"We found that among those involved, some PCPs felt they did not have the knowledge necessary to participate in these treatment decisions. If they're going to be involved, we need to find a way to make sure they have the knowledge to do so and we support them in a way that ensures they're confident and able to do so," Wallner said.
A previous study shows that only one in three breast cancer patients consult their general practitioners doctors about how to treat the disease.
This may lead to a problem moving forward, as the American Cancer Society predicts that more than 260,000 will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019.
Wallner says that when a patient establishes a relationship with their primary care physician, they can have a better understanding of treatment options.
"This is an emerging challenge for primary care providers," Wallner said. "Inundating them with detailed information about all possible cancer treatments is not feasible. But these providers are likely to start becoming even more involved with the more prevalent cancers, such as breast or prostate cancer. They need to have sufficient resources and support to be prepared for these conversations."