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The Make Your Published Dialogue Count survey results, published in The Breast Journal, identify communication gaps and understand the specific needs of metastatic breast cancer patients throughout the course of their disease (DOI: 10.1111/tbj.12675). A committee of oncologists, patient advocates, and a psychologist developed the survey questions to ensure the findings would be meaningful to the advanced breast cancer community, which comprises of metastatic (stage IV) and locally advanced breast cancer (stage III).

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"The Make Your Dialogue Count results have the potential to shape practice moving forward as they shed light on the importance for oncologists to have a continual and open dialogue with patients about their specific concerns and preferences so they can tailor treatment plans and improve quality of life for each individual patient," said Adam Brufsky, MD, Medical Director of the Women's Cancer Center, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, leading survey author, and Make Your Dialogue Count survey advisor.


"As oncologists, it is evident that we need to be more mindful of how we communicate about advanced breast cancer, treatment options, side effect management, and support services while encouraging our patients to be active participants in treatment discussions," he noted.


Results from the survey, conducted by Harris Poll among 359 women with metastatic breast cancer and 252 oncologists, show communication gaps exist in discussions between patients and oncologists, particularly around treatment plans and goals.


1. Eighty-nine percent of patients and 76 percent of oncologists said it's important or very important to discuss long-term treatment plans beyond the current recommended treatment at their initial advanced breast cancer diagnosis. Yet, 43 percent of patients reported this did not take place.


2. Seventy percent of patients and 65 percent of oncologists said it's important or very important to refer patients to support services at their initial advanced breast cancer diagnosis. Yet only 36 percent of patients reported this was something their doctor did.


3. Twenty-three percent of oncologists said that at times their emotions have kept them from sharing certain information with their advanced breast cancer patients, and 27 percent of oncologists said that, in certain situations, they do not discuss with patients the fact that advanced breast cancer is incurable.



The customizable Make Your Dialogue Count tool, available at, helps patients make the most out of their doctor visits. After answering key questions relevant to their unique experience with advanced breast cancer, patients receive a personalized discussion guide that addresses their concerns, along with tips for initiating a dialogue with their doctor and questions to ask at their next appointment. With any change in treatment or status, patients can retake the questionnaire and generate a new discussion guide that addresses the topics that matter most to them.


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