Study: Friends and family influence breast cancer treatment

In theory, friends and family are mostly there to support breast cancer patients and keep them afloat emotionally. The truth is, however, that supporters like these also help patients choose what surgeries they end up having, according to a new study.

University of Michigan researchers surveyed 1,651 women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer in the Detroit and Los Angeles regions.

When analyzing the data, they found that three-quarters of breast cancer patients surveyed brought a family member or friend to their first appointment with a surgeon. That person tended to influence the patient's medical choices, the study found.

Specifically, women who had a friend or family member come to the first appointment were more likely to receive mastectomies than those who came to the appointment by themselves. The researchers also found that women were more likely to choose mastectomies if they were pushing for it, rather than their doctor, according to the study, which appeared in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

To learn more about the study:
- read this HealthDay News piece