SAN ANTONIO – Nearly 25% of women with breast cancer who undergo breast-conserving surgery have a second operation, leading to increased incidence of complications and higher costs, a study presented at the 2016 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS) has shown.1

“Considerable attention has been drawn to the problem of repeated breast-conserving surgery, but the costs and complications due to these procedures are not well-characterized,” said Adam M. Zysk, PhD, vice president of Clinical Development, Diagnostic Photonics, Chicago. “We performed a review of insurance claims data to assess complications and economic outcomes.”

For the study, investigators analyzed private claims data from 9837 women who underwent breast-conserving surgery for breast carcinoma between 2010 and 2013 in Illinois, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Texas. Patients who underwent a second open breast surgery, whether a second breast-conserving surgery or mastectomy, within 90 days of initial breast-conserving surgery were considered as having a repeated surgery.

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Results showed that 23% of patients had at least 1 repeated surgery. The average 2-year costs for patients who underwent a single breast-conserving surgery was $89,016 vs $105,088 for those who underwent a repeated breast surgery. Mean costs for a second breast-conserving surgery and subsequent mastectomy were $100,637 and $115,292, respectively.

Therefore, the average cost for patients who underwent a second breast surgery was $16,072 higher than for those who had a single surgery.

Investigators also found that 34.8% of patients who underwent a repeated surgery experienced at least 1 complication compared with 23.6% of those who had 1 surgery, corresponding to a 47% higher risk of complications among patients undergoing a repeated surgery.

“For the 23% of women undergoing a second operation after breast-conserving surgery, complications were 47% more common, and the mean total cost of surgery was $16,000 more, demonstrating a patient-centered and fiscal imperative to reduce reoperations in breast-conserving surgery for breast cancer,” explained Dr Zysk.


1. Metcalf LN, Zysk AM, Underwood HR, et al. Looking beyond the margins: Economic costs and complications associated with repeated breast-conserving surgeries. Poster presented at: 2016 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium; December 6-10, 2016; San Antonio, TX.