Fear of chemotherapy leads to delayed consultation and treatment in breast cancer – have to control

I have seen a lot of Filipino breast cancer patients who consulted for the first time in my clinic with their cancers already in the late and advanced stage.  The breast cancers usually are more than 5 cm in size, oftentimes, with breast skin involvement with open wounds already.

Whenever I would inquire on the history after discovery of a breast mass and what led to such an advanced stage, the following are the common answers:

  1. It was not painful – I thought it was not something bad. (ignorance)
  2. I was afraid – afraid that the mass might be something bad (cancer) and I do not want to know. (denial)
  3. I was afraid – afraid that the mass might be something bad (cancer) and I do not want to undergo surgery treatment. (fear of surgical treatment)
  4. I was afraid – afraid that the mass might be something bad (cancer) and I do not want to undergo chemotherapy. (fear of chemotherapy)
  5. I do not have enough money for medical consult and treatment. (financial constraint)

These patients would end up in the following scenarios:

– They did not consult anybody (relatives and friends – they kept the information to themselves), any health professionals, and any people who could offer help (including practitioners of alternative medicine).  By the time they consult practitioners of mainstream medicines, their breast cancers are already in the advanced stage.

– They consulted practitioners of alternative medicine first.  When their breast cancers did not improve, they would go to practitioners of mainstream medicine.  By the time they consult practitioners of mainstream medicines, their breast cancers are already in the advanced stage.

From my personal experience in my medical clinic, currently, the fear of chemotherapy is the most common contributory factor in breast cancer patients consulting already in the advanced stage.

I feel this fear of chemotherapy that is leading to delayed consultation and treatment needs to be controlled through patient or public education.

The public has to be told and convinced that not all patients with breast cancer need to undergo chemotherapy.  Breast cancers in the early stage as a rule do not need to undergo chemotherapy.  

See evidences below:

Most Women With Early Stage Breast Cancer Can Forgo Chemotherapy When Guided by a Diagnostic Test

https://www.asco.org/about-asco/press-center/news-releases/most-women-early-stage-breast-cancer-can-forgo-chemotherapy

https://breastcancer-news.com/2018/06/20/most-women-with-early-breast-cancer-can-forgo-chemotherapy-trial-data-show/

See the table below – see column with heading of “chemo” – a lot of maybe.

43551117_133420884286063_7180621995296423936_n


See a related link that is worth reading:

Chemo or fear of chemo – what is worse

https://www.curetoday.com/community/dana-stewart/2018/02/chemo-or-fear-of-chemo-what-is-worse




Summary:

For those with possible breast cancer, consult a breast specialist right away (a breast specialist is a general surgeon with a breast specialty).

Let the breast specialist evaluate and listen to his / her recommendations.

Do not outrightly jump into a conclusion that you have to undergo a chemotherapy.

Not all patients with breast cancer need to undergo chemotherapy.  Breast cancers in the early stage as a rule do not need to undergo chemotherapy.  

Don’t let this mindset hinder you from consulting a breast specialist right away.




ROJ@18dec25

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