By Anna Gorman, Kaiser Health News
SAN FRANCISCO — Rose Gutierrez has a big decision to make.
Gutierrez, who was diagnosed with breast cancer last spring, had surgery and 10 weeks of chemotherapy. But the cancer is still there. Now Dr. Jasmine Wong, a surgeon at UC San Francisco, is explaining the choices – Gutierrez can either have another lumpectomy followed by radiation, or she can get a total mastectomy.
“I think both options are reasonable,” Wong said. “It’s just a matter of how you feel personally about preserving your breast, how you feel about having radiation therapy.”
Many patients aren’t accustomed to speaking up, so hospital provides tools for decisionimaking on treatments.
“Well if you made it through chemo, radiation is going to be a lot easier,” Wong told Gutierrez, who is from Merced, Calif.
In many hospitals and clinics around the country, oncologists and surgeons simply tell cancer patients what treatments they should have, or at least give them strong recommendations. But here, under a formal process called “shared decision making,” doctors and patients are working together to make choices about care. Continue reading