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6 themes described how women with early-stage breast cancer perceived and experienced treatment decision making

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What are the processes or stages of treatment decision making (TDM) as perceived by women with early-stage breast cancer?


Qualitative study.


Teaching hospital and regional cancer centre in Ontario, Canada.


Purposive sample of 21 women (age range 34–79 y), who had early-stage breast cancer, were referred for consultation about surgical or postsurgical systemic therapy options, and could speak and understand English.


Treatment consultations with surgeons or medical oncologists were videotaped. In semistructured interviews 2 weeks after the treatment decision was made, women described how they made the decision and then watched tapes of their initial consultation. Tapes were stopped at predetermined times or spontaneously by participants when TDM appeared to be taking place, and women were asked to describe their thoughts at that time. Interviews were recorded and transcribed. Data were analysed thematically.

Main findings

6 themes described women’s perceptions or experiences of TDM. (1) Before oncology consultations, women sought information about treatment options and resources from informal (family and friends) and formal …

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  • Source of funding Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, Ontario Chapter; Breast Cancer Research Program, US Department of Defense.