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Laura Bourdeanu, Thehang Luu, Norma Baker, Suzanne Swain-Cabriales, Cathie T. Chung, Joanne Mortimer, Arti Hurria, Sandra Helton, David Smith, Betty Ferrell, Gloria Juarez and George Somlo

Delays between presentation and treatment could have a significant effect on breast cancer mortality. The authors hypothesized that patient, physician, and system barriers are all responsible for treatment delays. Therefore, a study was conducted to define prevalent barriers to treatment from the patient’s perspective. A modified 43-item Likert-scale questionnaire was administered to patients with clinical stage III locally advanced breast cancer (LABC) who had experienced a delay in treatment of 3 months or more. Between October 2008 and January 2010, 153 patients presented with LABC; 43 patients (28.1%) met eligibility, and 40 completed the questionnaire. Among the patient barriers reported, 38% of patients delayed care for fear of losing their breast and 47% awaited previously scheduled routine appointments instead of seeking care. Among the physician barriers reported, 20% of physicians of initial contact did not believe the breast lump/symptom was related to cancer and 15% did not believe it needed a biopsy. Among the system barriers reported, the most prevalent were delays in performing diagnostic tests and obtaining insurance authorization for tests, treatment, or physician visits. Substantial delays were seen in 28.1% of patients from presentation to when they sought therapy at City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center. The high prevalence of patient barriers versus physician/system barriers suggests that increased educational efforts for patients and health care professionals are needed.

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Maria Cassandre Medor, Sylia Mohand-Said, Andrea Ibrahim, Laura Baker, Audrey Litvak, Moein Momtazi and Carolyn Nessim