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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Outcome analysis of breast cancer patients who declined evidence-based treatment

Kurian Joseph1*, Sebastian Vrouwe1, Anmmd Kamruzzaman4, Ali Balbaid1, David Fenton2, Richard Berendt34, Edward Yu5 and Patricia Tai6

Author Affiliations

1 Divisions of Radiation Oncology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada

2 Medical Oncology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada

3 Laboratory Medicine & Pathology, Cross Cancer Institute, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada

4 Laboratory Medicine & Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada

5 Department of Radiation Oncology, London Regional Cancer Center, London, ON, Canada

6 Department of Radiation Oncology, Allan Blair Cancer Center, Regina, Canada

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World Journal of Surgical Oncology 2012, 10:118  doi:10.1186/1477-7819-10-118

Published: 26 June 2012

Abstract

Background

To analyze the characteristics and outcomes of women with breast cancer in the Northern Alberta Health Region (NAHR) who declined recommended primary standard treatments.

Methods

A chart review was performed of breast cancer patients who refused recommended treatments during the period 1980 to 2006. A matched pair analysis was performed to compare the survival data between those who refused or received standard treatments.

Results

A total of 185 (1.2%) patients refused standard treatment. Eighty-seven (47%) were below the age of 75 at diagnosis. The majority of those who refused standard treatments were married (50.6%), 50 years or older (60.9%), and from the urban area (65.5%). The 5-year overall survival rates were 43.2% (95% CI: 32.0 to 54.4%) for those who refused standard treatments and 81.9% (95% CI: 76.9 to 86.9%) for those who received them. The corresponding values for the disease-specific survival were 46.2% (95% CI: 34.9 to 57.6%) vs. 84.7% (95% CI: 80.0 to 89.4%).

Conclusions

Women who declined primary standard treatment had significantly worse survival than those who received standard treatments. There is no evidence to support using Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) as primary cancer treatment.