A feasibility study to evaluate breast cancer patients' knowledge of their diagnosis and treatment

Stephanie M. Smith, Raymond R. Balise, Catherine Norton, Mary M. Chen, Alissa N. Flesher, Alice E. Guardino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective: To evaluate the feasibility of an electronic survey to assess patients' knowledge of their breast cancer and treatment, and interest in receiving a medical summary. Methods: Women undergoing breast cancer treatment completed an interviewer-administered electronic survey in person or by telephone. Medical records were abstracted to evaluate knowledge accuracy. Results: Among 38 eligible patients approached for the study, 35 (92%) participated and 33 (94%) completed the survey. Participants' perceived knowledge tended to be greater than their actual knowledge. Reporting of clinicopathologic features was most accurate for stage (91%) and lymph node status (88%), and least accurate for tumor size (61%), type (61%), and grade (33%). Accurate reporting of tumor receptor over-expression varied from 76% (estrogen receptor) to 39% (progesterone receptor). Many patients correctly recalled general treatment modalities and details of surgery; fewer recalled details of radiation and chemotherapy. Importantly, nearly all (32/33) were interested in receiving a breast cancer medical summary. Conclusion: An electronic survey is feasible to assess breast cancer patients' knowledge. This data suggest that patients have gaps in knowledge and would like a personalized medical summary. Practice implications: Larger studies are needed to validate and characterize knowledge gaps, and test interventions to improve physician-patient information sharing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-329
Number of pages9
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast cancer
  • Cancer survivorship
  • Information-sharing
  • Patient knowledge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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