Mastectomy versus breast-conservation therapy: an examination of how individual, clinicopathologic, and physician factors influence decision-making

J. Gu, M. Delisle, R. Engler-Stringer, G. Groot


Background  The choice of mastectomy compared with breast-conservation therapy (bct) in early-stage breast cancer (esbca) is a complicated decision-making process. Interprovincially, Canada’s mastectomy rates vary from 25% to 68%, with Saskatchewan reporting the nation’s second-highest mastectomy rate at 63%. The aim of our research was to better understand why women with esbca choose mastectomy rather than bct in Saskatchewan.

Methods  We created a survey based on a previously developed framework that organizes influencing factors into 3 constructs: clinicopathologic, physician, and individual belief factors.

Results  Treatment choice was found to be influenced by disease stage and multiple individual belief factors. Compared with their counterparts having stage i disease, women with stage ii disease were significantly more likely to undergo mastectomy [odds ratio (or): 7.48]. Patients rating “worry about cancer recurrence” and “total treatment time” as more influential in their choice were also more likely to undergo mastectomy (or: 3.4 and 1.8 respectively). Conversely, women rating “wanting to keep own breast tissue,” “tumour size,” and “surgeon’s opinion” as influential in their choice were more likely to undergo bct (or: 0.17, 0.66, and 0.69 respectively).

Conclusions  Our study demonstrates that treatment choices for Saskatchewan women with esbca are influenced primarily by disease stage and individual belief factors. Those findings suggest that women are making their treatment choices predominantly based on individual values and preferences. The use of rates of mastectomy and bct as indicators of quality of care might be misleading. Instead, a shift in attention toward patient-centred care might be more appropriate.


Breast cancer; early-stage; mastectomy; breast-conservation therapy; decision-making; shared decision-making; patient-centred care


Copyright © 2019 Multimed Inc.
ISSN: 1198-0052 (Print) ISSN: 1718-7729 (Online)