Women in the US have around a 1 in 8 chance of developing breast cancer at some stage in their lives, and a three percent chance of dying from it. Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among women the world over, and is second only to heart disease in total numbers of deaths caused.
Treatment of breast cancer is an extremely important issue – yet many women do not know their treatment options for breast cancer. What do most women know about treating breast cancer, and what can cancer hospitals do to help women make better informed choices?
Breast cancer is the second most common cancer worldwide, the leading cancer in women, and the second leading cause of death in women worldwide. It has an incidence rate more than twice that of cervical cancer and colorectal cancer, and three times as high as lung cancer in women. It follows that breast cancer is one of the most researched and publicized conditions – however, many groups in our society know little about their treatment options for breast cancer.
Recent research has revealed that nearly half of women being treated for breast cancer did not know that their odds of survival were just as good whether they underwent a complete mastectomy, or breast conserving surgery. One of the greatest impacts of breast cancer on its survivors is on their mental health and self-image. The loss of a breast can have a huge impact on how a woman feels about herself, which in turn affects her general health and the attention she pays to her body.
The study was carried out by The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center. It discovered that many women do not understand the differences between treatment options for breast cancer, and minority women are even less likely to be aware of the impact their decisions will have on their prognosis. This was found to be true even though surgeons communicated the differences to their patients in all cases – the information simply didn’t seem to be integrated into the decision making process.
One factor that the researchers note is that information about breast cancer treatment must be communicated in a culturally appropriate and sensitive way. With medical tourism and overseas treatment now creating a large part of the cancer-treatment demographic, this clear communication is more important than ever.
Hospitals which focus on medical tourism, like Bangkok Hospital in Thailand, as well as Bumrungrad in Thailand, understand the importance of cultural sensitivity when communicating with patients. Bangkok Hospital, for example, takes a range of steps to make sure that overseas patients feel as ‘at-home’ as possible while in the hospital, with different dietary options, doctors that speak several languages, as well as translators for all the languages not spoken by the doctors themselves, and signage and information provided in several languages.
In many cases, patients may find that doctors in Thai hospitals for breast cancer like Bangkok Hospital and Bumrungrad have their treatment options more clearly communicated to them than they would in the West. Both of these cancer treatment hospitals in Thailand have specialized breast care clinics, focusing on early detection and diagnosis, as well as treatment of breast cancer in Thailand.
Given the more international, diverse focus of Thailand’s breast cancer hospitals, treatment as a medical tourist may make more sense, and provide better outcomes for women with breast cancer.