I must say, I am not particularly surprised by these findings. When we enter ‘cancerland’, most of us are neophytes, without much knowledge of cancer and treatment options. We generally rely on our medical team almost exclusively at first, supplementing this with Google and others to build up knowledge of our specific cancer and treatments. As we progress in our journey, and develop more knowledge, then our discussions of treatment options become more informed – we know what to look for, what questions to ask. Quote:
Of concern, however, was the finding that 32% of patients taking part in this survey were not aware that personalized medicine was available for their cancer. “There remains considerable scope for physicians and support groups to better inform patients that not all tumors are the same and that established and emerging tests may be able to determine which treatments may be the most effective for their particular tumor,” the authors concluded.
What I did not understand is that why discussing personalized medicine options is characterized as difficult. It is the cancer itself, prognosis, and treatment options (personalized or not) that is hardest on patients, not whether to explore personalized medicine. Quote:
“I was not surprised by this finding,” Dr. Tejpar commented. “This is a difficult conversation for a doctor to have with a patient,” she said, and she suspects that many clinicians will hesitate before starting a discussion about personalized medicine. It involves asking the patient for a biopsy, but some of the biomarkers are rare, and patients have only a small chance of being suitable for a targeted treatment. It can be quite time consuming to explain all of this, and it can be disappointing for patients if it turns out that they do not have the biomarker that makes them eligible for the treatment.