Potentially avoidable breast cancer surgeries cost patients and health care system

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 59 , No. 1 , January February 2017 , Pages 56-57 News

A recent study by UBC medical researchers examined the health care costs associated with lumpectomy patients requiring reoperations. A lumpectomy, or breast conservation surgery (BCS), removes tumors, aims to conserve breast tissue, and is followed by radiation therapy. The study concluded that with Canadian reoperation rates being more than double recommended targets, the additional cost to BC’s health care system alone is $2 million per year.

Study author Dr Chris Baliski, a clinical assistant professor at UBC and surgical oncologist at the BC Cancer Agency in Kelowna, identifies one of the problems as the lack of clinical guidelines, targets, and report cards provided to surgeons. Dr Baliski notes that, in Canada, 23% of women require additional procedures, ranging from further BCSs to full mastectomies and breast reconstruction. He adds that having to reoperate also makes a positive cosmetic outcome more difficult to achieve and can lead to additional stress and anxiety for patients and their families.

In compiling the study, Dr Baliski and fellow researcher Ms Reka Pataky compared Canadian reoperation averages, calculated by the Canadian Institute of Health Information, with the 10% target advocated by the European Society of Breast Cancer Specialists. Based on current research, the pair then developed multiple scenarios to measure how patient management is influenced by excessive reoperations and analyzed the monetary impact using financial data from British Columbia’s health system.

The related article, “Reoperation costs in attempted breast-conserving surgery: A decision analysis,” was recently published in Current Oncology, and is available online at www.current-oncology.com/index.php/oncology/article/view/2989.

. Potentially avoidable breast cancer surgeries cost patients and health care system. BCMJ, Vol. 59, No. 1, January, February, 2017, Page(s) 56-57 - News.

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