Gaps in Knowledge and Understanding of Patients With Metastatic Breast Cancer in Mexico

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Abstract

There is paucity of data regarding the knowledge and understanding of patients with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) about their disease stage and treatment goals. This study assessed these patients’ awareness of MBC incurability, topics reviewed with their oncologist, perceptions of having enough knowledge to participate in treatment decision-making, most helpful information source, and satisfaction with the information they received. For this purpose, 185 patients with MBC who attended follow-up medical appointments at a Mexican referral cancer center completed a survey designed by the Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance.

Clinical data were obtained from medical records. Descriptive statistics were applied, and associations between qualitative and quantitative variables were assessed with χ2 and Mann-Whitney U tests, respectively. Half (52%) of the patients were aware that their disease was incurable, while 31% were not sure, and 17% thought it was curable. Forty percent found it difficult to talk about treatments because they did not understand the options that were available to them.

The medical staff was the most helpful information source for 74% of participants, and 64% scored their satisfaction with information ≥9 of 10. A significant association was found between higher satisfaction and knowing that MBC is incurable, as well as being older than 40 years. These results illustrate the significant lack of understanding patients with MBC have regarding their cancer, even when reporting high satisfaction with the provided information, and identify a critical need for improved patient education to enhance their comprehension and promote their participation in decision-making processes, treatment adherence, and, ultimately, outcomes.

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