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Breast. 2013 Oct;22(5):836-8. doi: 10.1016/j.breast.2013.02.019. Epub 2013 Mar 21.

Patients' understanding of medical terminology used in the breast clinic.

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  • 1Department of Oncoplastic Breast Surgery, Ashford and St Peter's NHS Foundation Trust, London Road, Ashford, Middlesex TW15 3AA, UK. Electronic address:


This study evaluated patients' understanding of common terms used by breast surgeons in order to identify words which may need to be defined and explained during a clinic consultation. 95 patients completed the survey. 87% defined 'Surgeon' correctly whereas 'Radiographer' and 'Radiologist' were correctly defined by only 19% and 28% respectively. 26% correctly defined 'Pathologist' and 43% 'Oncologist'. Two-thirds of patients correctly defined 'Benign' (66%) and 'Malignant' (65%). 'Mammogram' and 'Ultrasound' were correctly defined by 39% and 8% respectively. 21% of patients correctly defined 'Multi-Disciplinary Team Meeting'. 1 in 5 patients correctly defined 'Chemotherapy' (20%) and 'Radiotherapy' (19%). This study has identified that many of the medical terms used in a consultation are not understood by patients. Education must be incorporated as a routine part of the consultation to enhance the patient experience and ensure they can actively participate in making informed decisions about their care.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Breast cancer; Patient education

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