Most Breast Cancer Diagnoses Given Over the Phone

MONDAY, Sept. 24, 2018 — Currently, most patients receiving a breast cancer diagnosis receive the information over the phone, according to a study published online Aug. 7 in Supportive Care in Cancer.

Jane A. McElroy, Ph.D., from the University of Missouri in Columbia, and colleagues conducted a survey of 2,896 patients in order to assess how breast cancer diagnoses were shared with patients.

The researchers found that participants were more likely to be given their diagnosis over the telephone in more recent years (odds ratio, 1.07). From 1967 to 2006, breast cancer diagnoses were communicated in person more often than by telephone. However, since 2006, more than half of participants learned about their diagnosis over the telephone. Almost 60 percent of participants diagnosed from 2015 to 2017 learned about their diagnosis over the telephone. Among those who heard the news in person, 40 percent were alone. Those who received the news over the telephone more commonly had identified support members, heterosexual identity, and a diagnosis of in situ breast cancer.

“When we analyzed the data, I was completely surprised to find such a clear trend,” McElroy said in a statement. “Historically, physicians have decided to use their best judgment when delivering a diagnosis, whether it’s in person or over the phone. Nowadays, some patients clearly want to hear this information over the phone.”

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Posted: September 2018

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