Ethics and Breast Cancer

Ethics and Breast Cancer
Amtul R. Carmichael, Kerstin Sandelin
Surgical Ethics, 27 March 2019; pp 257-264
Enabling, empowering and educating a woman to make the right choice between breast-conserving surgery and mastectomy are aligned with the fundamental principle of bioethics, that is, respect for patient autonomy. A clear understanding of the contemporary ethical and social issues related to genetic testing for breast cancer is necessary to develop a practical approach for counselling, testing and treating patients with genetic disposition to breast cancer. Ethnic inequities, disparities, opportunity and timeliness to treatment and its prognostic significance on breast cancer mortality have been studied in several populations worldwide. While the underutilisation of screening mammography can be attributed to socioeconomic and cultural and geographic barriers, ethical principles must be taken into account. The debate regarding no intervention for low-grade ductal carcinoma in situ and the issue of overdiagnosis are further ethical issues that raise concerns in the informed decision process and the ethical concepts of no harm and autonomy.

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