Many may feel overwhelmed on making decisions about their treatment, often turning to their doctors, their family and their friends for advice. Sometimes, the fear of chemotherapy and hospital-based treatment can drive individuals to consider treatments which they perceive to be more “natural” but may not work.
“There have been many advances in breast cancer treatment, but with that comes the complexity of knowing which treatment is available for each patient. Our research here in Malaysia had shown that this was an area where women needed help, so we put together a team of experts to develop tools specifically for Asian women,” said Professor Datin Paduka Dr. Soo-Hwang Teo, Chief Scientific Officer of CRMY.
In conjunction with Breast Cancer Awareness month this October, we at Cancer Research Malaysia (CRMY) have officially launched our Patient Decision Aids for breast cancer patients.
Prof Lee Ping Yein, Consultant Primary Care Physician and lead author of the Decision Aid for Metastatic Breast Cancer, said, “Our goal is to increase awareness amongst patients about the improvements in treatment options, and to encourage women to make decisions together with their doctors, as shared decisions lead to better outcomes.”
Prof Nur Aishah Mohd Taib, Consultant Breast Surgeon in University Malaya and a key member of the development team emphasized that in early breast cancer patients, the Decision Aid can help women clarify whether preserving their breast and body image may be more important to them (and therefore a preference towards breast conserving surgery), or whether considering more comprehensive surgery (like a mastectomy) may provide more reassurance because of the perception that there will be less fear of cancers coming back.
Dr Adlinda Alip, Consultant Oncologist at University Malaya and a key member of the development team emphasized that for patients with metastatic breast cancer, these treatment decisions are often times even more complex, because they deal with quality of life, cost of treatment and many other difficult decisions.
“Patients were part of the development of the Decision Aids and as a result, the Aids will help because it gives very clear patient-focused information, not just medical information, but provides structure to identify individual treatment goals,” added Dr Sylvia McCarthy, Medical Director of HOSPIS Malaysia and a key expert in the development team.
“Shared decision making not only increases patients’ active role in decision-making but also the likelihood that patients’ choices are more consistent with their informed values. As our Patient Navigation Programme serves predominantly low income women, it is critical that these tools are easily understood by all women,” added Mrs Maheswari Jaganathan, Patient Navigation Programme Manager of Cancer Research Malaysia and a key expert in the development team.
The Patient Decision Aids for breast cancer patients are available for patients who register with Cancer Research Malaysia at this link. Our goal is to enable these Decision Aids to be available in hospitals in Malaysia, and we need partners to help us pay for the cost of printing and distribution of these tools. We are also working on digital forms of the Decision Aid and hope to raise the funds needed to help us make these tools more widely available. For more information on how to help, check out www.cancerresearch.my or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To read our press release on this, head on over to this link.
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