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The gender of your surgeon may affect your care?

In a somewhat surprising study published out of Columbia University, researchers attempted to assess why one in four women being treated for breast cancer do not receive radiation therapy after a lumpectomy.  The researchers noted that such therapy is consistent with the standard of care, but still neglected too often.  They identified four factors that contributed, statistically, to a women over 65 not receiving radiation:  the oldest subjects were less likely to be radiated, black women were less likely, unmarried women were less likely to receive this therapy and women outside urban areas were less likely to receive the treatment.  After controlling for these factors, however, the researchers identiifed an additional, surprising factor.  Women treated by women surgeons were more likely to receive radiation therapy than were women treated by male surgeons.  Perhaps there is an issue of communication or of empathy which negatively influences treatment decisions; regardless, it is unfortunate and should be addressed.

You may read the Ney York Times blog article Well: The sex of your surgeon may matter here.

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