A customized web-based support tool provides customized information on the risks and management of breast cancer. The online decision guide helps a woman make important decisions regarding treatment options and, according to a new study, helps them feel comfortable with their choice.
Researchers discovered the tool was especially helpful for women at high risk of breast cancer, reducing their anxiety and helping them make a decision.
The web-based tool, called the “Guide to Decide,” includes general information about breast cancer and personalized information about an individual woman’s five-year risk of breast cancer. The guide walks women through two medical options to prevent breast cancer: tamoxifen and raloxifene.
Information was tailored to each woman’s age and race, and included information on the benefits and risk of tamoxifen and raloxifene as well as how it would affect the woman’s breast cancer risk.
In the study, researchers looked at post-menopausal women ages 40-74 who were considered at high risk of breast cancer. Of the 1,012 women who participated, 690 were randomly assigned to view the decision guide.
Participants were asked after viewing the guide and again three months later about whether they wanted to receive preventive treatment and how they felt about that decision.
Women who viewed the guide reported significantly less uncertainty when deciding whether to take tamoxifen or raloxifene, and three months later they were more likely to have made a decision.
“Since the decision to use tamoxifen or raloxifene to prevent breast cancer is based on each woman’s preferences, with no single right or wrong answer, the intervention enabled each woman to weigh the relative risks and benefits for herself and make a decision that aligned with her own values and preferences,” said study first author Matthew (Mateo) P. Banegas, M.P.H., M.S., a doctoral candidate at the University of Washington.
“Because the guide was web-based, women could access it in the comfort of their home or preferred setting, at their own pace, and with their family, friends or other support system around. In addition, tailoring the information meant it matched each woman’s circumstances and was much more personal,” said senior author Angela Fagerlin, Ph.D.
Researchers say their next area of study involves looking at preventing information overload — how many risks and benefits can be presented to patients before they are overwhelmed by information and are not able to process it fully.
Source: University of Michigan