Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Breast cancer screening costs up, early detection unchanged

CANCER DIGEST – July 16, 2014 – Medicare spending on breast cancer screening increased by nearly $300 million a year between 2001 and 2009 but the detection rates of early stage tumors were unchanged, according to a new study published July 16 in the JNCI: Journalof the National Cancer Institute. Using data from the SEER-Medicare linked database, researchers at the Yale Cancer Center created two groups of women 65 and over and compared them.
One group of 137,150 women were screened between 2001 and 2002 before the introduction of new screening technologies such as digital mammography and MRI for breast screening. The second group of 133,097 women were screened between 2008 and 2009 after the introduction of the new screening methods. They found that while overall screening rates remained stable, the use of digital image acquisition and computer-aided detection increased. At the national level, that translates into annual screening-related costs to the Medicare program going from $666 million to $962 million. Despite the increase in cost there was no significant change in detection rates of early stage breast cancer. 

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