Breast cancer screening costs on the rise for Medicare patients

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Breast Cancer Screening Costs Up in Medicare Patients
Breast Cancer Screening Costs Up in Medicare Patients

(HealthDay News) -- Although use of newer technologies and costs associated with breast cancer screening have increased, no change in stage at diagnosis has been observed in Medicare beneficiaries, according to research published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Brigid Killelea, M.D., of the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., and colleagues compared the use and cost of screening mammography for two cohorts of women (mean age, 76 to 77 years) in 2001 to 2002 and 2008 to 2009. Digital mammography and computer-aided detection (CAD) were compared, as were adjunct procedures, including breast ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging, and biopsy.

The researchers found that the use of digital image acquisition for breast screening mammography increased from 2.0 percent in 2001 to 2002 to 29.8 percent in 2008 to 2009; use of CAD increased from 3.2 to 33.1 percent (both P < 0.001). The average screening-related cost per capita increased from $76 to $112 (P < 0.001). The detection rate for early-stage breast tumors increased from 2.45 to 2.57 per 1,000 person-years (P = 0.41).

"Although breast cancer screening-related costs increased substantially from 2001 through 2009 among Medicare beneficiaries, a clinically significant change in stage at diagnosis was not observed," the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the biomedical industry.

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