A Melbourne health organisation has issued advice for women who want to ask about breast cancer treatment, but they are struggling to find out what the experts think.
Key points:The Women’s Health Foundation’s latest national survey found most women want to talk about breast health with experts but many don’t know what to askWomen are often unsure what they can say in public and don’t want to reveal their personal information to a strangerThe survey found many women were unsure about the risks of surgery or chemotherapy for breast cancer, and most don’t trust their doctor’s opinions when it comes to treatmentThey said many women did not want to tell anyone they were having breast cancer or disclose their personal details because they did not think they could trust them.
The national survey, carried out in April and May, found one in four women wanted to discuss breast health in a public setting.
Women were also less likely to want to share their personal medical history, with half of women who wanted to talk with a breast specialist saying they were afraid to.
The survey also found one-third of women didn’t want an adviser to discuss their treatment options with them, and two in three were worried about what their doctor might think of them.
“Many women don’t have a doctor to talk to,” a spokesperson for the Women’s Foundation, which runs a women’s support group and women’s cancer support centre in Melbourne, told the ABC.
“If you don’t get that support, you can feel really isolated.”
Women can ask for advice about the risk of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy for breast disease from the Men’s Health Association, but are often not given a direct response from the experts.
“Most women who do seek out breast cancer support aren’t really interested in talking to us about breast surgery, they want to discuss it with a nurse practitioner,” Dr Helen Dickson, chief executive of the Men, Cancer and Women’s Association, told ABC News.
Dr Dickson said many breast cancer experts did not have a clue about the potential risks of the procedures.
“They may not even have the knowledge of the actual risks of this,” she said.
“The risk of this being a woman with breast cancer has never been known to the public.”
Dr Denton said women’s groups had been working for years to raise awareness about the harms of breast cancer and breast cancer surgery, and had also tried to raise money for research.
“But when we try to do that through our community, that is not what happens,” she added.
“We are very concerned that it is not being addressed by the general public.”
One of the key questions asked was what the specialist said if a woman told her about breast implants, which can help treat breast cancer.
“A lot of women don-t want to disclose their breast cancer history, because they don’t think they can trust a doctor’s opinion when it relates to that,” Dr Dickson told ABC Radio Melbourne.
“Some women have no idea what they are going to do if they have breast cancer.”
Dr David Atherton, director of the women’s group at the Cancer Research UK Centre for Women’s and Children’s Health in Manchester, said many men had had breast cancer themselves, and were worried that women’s lives would be affected if they didn’t get information about it.
“I would say that a significant number of women, especially women who are in their late 20s or early 30s, don’t understand that breast cancer is a very serious disease that needs to be treated seriously and the best thing you can do is talk to a specialist and get the right treatment for your breast cancer,” he said.
Dr Athertton said it was important for women to be able to talk openly about their cancer to help their doctors.
“As women we have to be a bit more open and we have got to be more proactive in our approach and that’s really what we want to do, is help our health care team and make sure that we are supporting the medical team,” he told ABC Melbourne.
Topics:women,women-in-government,health,community-and-society,women,melbourne-3000,vic,franceFirst posted April 01, 2019 13:16:00Contact Karen HodgeMore stories from Victoria