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Audrey Wallace, MD, MSN
Radiation Oncology Resident
University of Alabama at Birmingham Medical Center
Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO
- Seeking to remove barriers to treatment decisions in older breast cancer patients.
- A clinical trial is planned to identify the needs of older breast cancer patients in making decisions about treatment after surgery.
- This study aims to build the framework for the development of a tool to aid older patients in treatment decision-making
Breast cancer treatment in older women is complicated by other age-related factors as well as natural life expectancy. There are limited guidelines for doctors and their older patients in deciding the best treatment approach for breast cancer. Dr. Wallace is pursuing a study to better understand what older patients need to inform their decision-making process.
Full Research Summary
Older women with favorable, early stage breast cancer face complex and difficult decisions when making treatment choices. Currently, there are no clear clinical recommendations to guide doctors, and no easy decision tools to help women. There are many challenges in older patients diagnosed with breast cancer including other ailments and diseases, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, as well as the general overall health considerations of the patient.
The standard post-surgery therapy for most early stage breast cancer is radiation therapy to the breast followed by anti-estrogens to prevent recurrences. Clinical trial data suggests that some women may be able to omit the radiation component, but real-world data suggests that many may not tolerate the side effects of anti-estrogens.
Research is needed to better understand what information women need to make these difficult treatment decisions, and what the best way to provide that information would be.
Audrey Wallace is a radiation oncologist and health services researcher interested in improving outcomes in patients treated with radiation therapy. She has a long-standing interest in radiation oncology outcomes having worked in the field initially as a nurse, and now as a physician. Her work focuses on identifying barriers and facilitators to guideline concordant care using administrative data. After identification of trends in care, her focus shifts to the design of interventions at the level of the patient, caregiver, practitioner, and healthcare system to improve care outcomes. As part of the ASCO YIA award, she will be studying decision making in older women with breast cancer who have various treatment choices given favorable early stage disease. Decision aids can help women better understand how clinical trial findings can be translated to the real-world setting. Use of these aids can help patients and healthcare providers have collaborative discussions about treatment decisions.
BCRF Investigator Since
The Blizzard Entertainment Award
The Hirschhorn Award in Honor of Susan B. Hirschhorn and in Memory of Her Mother Ellen S. Hirschhorn