JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Decision aids for breast and nodal surgery in patients with early breast cancer: development and a pilot study.

AIM: As survival rates for aggressive and conservative breast and lymph node surgery are similar, surgical treatment decisions for patients with early-stage breast cancer should take patient preference into account. Decision aids have been demonstrated to increase patient knowledge and satisfaction with decision making, while decreasing decisional conflict. Hundreds of decision aids exist; however, few address lymph node surgery in any detail, and none acknowledge that there is a choice comparable to that between mastectomy and breast-conserving therapy.

METHODS: A systematic process was employed to develop decision aids for mastectomy versus breast-conserving therapy, axillary dissection versus sentinel node biopsy, and options following a positive sentinel node biopsy. The first two of these decision aids were evaluated in a small pilot study. Choice of operation, knowledge and decisional conflict and satisfaction were compared with outcomes in an historical control group.

RESULTS: Women reported favorably on the decision aids. The numbers in the pilot group were too small to allow definitive conclusions to be drawn, but suggested a possible reduction in decisional conflict, and possibly increase in decisional satisfaction, knowledge and choice of axillary clearance (rather than sentinel node biopsy) in the intervention group.

CONCLUSION: These decision aids could improve decision making for the surgical treatment of early breast cancer. A prospective randomized, control trial is needed to further evaluate the impact of these decision aids, particularly in the case of nodal surgery.

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