A High Number of Breast Cancer Survivors Do Not Undergo Annual Surveillance

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As time passes, many breast cancer survivors opt out of annual testing.
As time passes, many breast cancer survivors opt out of annual testing.

(HealthDay News) -- A considerable proportion of breast cancer survivors do not undergo annual surveillance breast imaging, according to a study published in the May issue of the Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

Kathryn J. Ruddy, M.D., M.P.H., from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and colleagues used administrative claims data to identify privately insured and Medicare Advantage beneficiaries with non-metastatic breast cancer who had residual breast tissue after breast surgery. The proportion of patients who had a mammogram, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), both, or neither was assessed during five subsequent 13-month periods. Data were included for 27,212 patients who were followed for a median of 2.9 years after definitive breast cancer surgery.

The researchers found that 78, 1, and 8 percent of patients were screened using mammography alone, MRI alone, and both tests, respectively, in year 1, while 13 percent did not undergo either screening test. By year 5, 19 percent of the remaining 4,790 women had no breast imaging. During the first and fifth years, older age was correlated with an increased likelihood of mammography and a decreased likelihood of MRI. The likelihood of both types of imaging was decreased in association with black race, mastectomy, chemotherapy, and no MRI at baseline.

"Even in an insured cohort, a substantial proportion of breast cancer survivors do not undergo annual surveillance breast imaging, particularly as time passes," the authors write. "Understanding factors associated with imaging in cancer survivors may help improve adherence to survivorship care guidelines."

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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