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Non-White women more likely to have side effects from breast cancer radiation therapy underrecognized

Physicians fail to detect significant side effects in about half of their women patients, especially non-White patients, undergoing breast radiation therapy, according to a new study.

Researchers studied patient reports of pain, itching, swelling, and fatigue in more than 13,000 women who underwent radiation after lumpectomies between 2012 and 2020. They then compared the results with physician reports. The physicians, especially male doctors, missed significant edema or swelling in about half their patients and moderate to severe pain in about one-third.

Black and other non-White women were about 50 percent more likely than White women to have their symptoms underestimated.