Most women receive breast cancer diagnosis by phone

By Kate Madden Yee, staff writer

September 12, 2018 -- Most women who are diagnosed with breast cancer are notified over the phone, according to a study published online August 7 in Supportive Care in Cancer.

Researchers from the University of Missouri surveyed 2,900 breast cancer patients diagnosed between 1967 and 2017. Before 2007, approximately 25% of patients were informed of their diagnosis by telephone; after 2007, that number increased to more than 50%, the group found. Since 2015, it has risen further to 60%.

Talking with patients in person about a serious illness has long been considered best practice, wrote the team led by Jane McElroy, PhD. But how patients want to be informed about their health has changed.

"Historically, physicians have decided to use their best judgment when delivering a diagnosis," she said in a statement released by the university. "Nowadays, some patients clearly want to hear this information over the phone."

In response to the study results, the university had added training to its first-year medical student curriculum about how to break bad news to patients over the phone, emphasizing that because patients can't always absorb details about their diagnosis in a single conversation, follow-up is key.

"When we looked at how other hospitals are confronting this dilemma, we realized we're on the forefront of this discussion by training our medical students before they have to deliver difficult diagnoses as physicians," McElroy said.

Copyright © 2018

To read this and get access to all of the exclusive content on create a free account or sign-in now.

Member Sign In:
MemberID or Email Address:  
Do you have a password?
No, I want a free membership.
Yes, I have a password:  
Forgot your password?
Sign in using your social networking account:
Sign in using your social networking