Researchers find that most Medicare patients wait weeks before breast cancer surgery
Although patients may feel anxious waiting weeks from the time of their first doctor visit to evaluate their breast until they have breast cancer surgery, new findings from Fox Chase Cancer Center show that these waits are typical in the United States. Results were published on Monday, November 19 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Looking at data collected from more than 72,000 Medicare patients diagnosed with non-metastatic breast cancer, researchers—led by Richard J. Bleicher, M.D., attending surgeon and director of the Breast Fellowship Program at Fox Chase—found that, in 2005, half of the breast cancer patients underwent breast cancer surgery at least 32 days after first consulting their doctor about their breast problem. This is an increase from 1992, when half of the patients waited no more than 21 days.
"For many Medicare patients, it can take a month or more from the time they first see their doctor to evaluate their breast concern, make a diagnosis, and get them to the operating room," says Bleicher. "So if a woman learns that her surgery date is weeks after her evaluation, where she was found to have a breast cancer, she should know this length of time is typical, and should not be concerned."
"Although this interval may sound alarming at first, it does not appear to have a detrimental effect on outcomes. We don't have the outcomes data for this group of patients yet, but we have seen improvements in survival over the past few decades in breast cancer overall." Bleicher adds.
Before this study, Bleicher explains, it was unclear how long people were actually waiting for surgery and how the surgery type and workup affected that wait. Experts had data from individual institutions, but nothing that captured waiting times nationwide. So when patients got anxious hearing their surgery was weeks away, doctors were unable to tell them whether such wait times were longer than the norm, and thus potentially dangerous.
"It's not clear why people are waiting longer for surgery," says Bleicher. Now that patients have access to more information about cancer, they may take longer to make decisions about surgery; alternatively, a larger patient population could be filling operating rooms, making it harder to schedule surgeries. Indeed, patients undergoing more complicated procedures—such as mastectomy with breast reconstruction—waited longer than average.
Longer delays were also seen in patients who received certain types of biopsies and imaging. This suggests that part of the increase in wait time may stem from greater use of a wider variety of current tools to detect and image the tumors before surgery, says Bleicher. This may also explain why patients may be living longer, even though the time from presentation to their doctor until surgery steadily increased from 1992 to 2005.
"Patients should be aware that even though breast cancer feels like an emergency needing to be addressed tomorrow, it doesn't have to be dealt with in a matter of days," says Bleicher. "These results should reassure women that, if they are not in the operating room tomorrow, that's typical."
He adds that the findings apply only to patients receiving Medicare, and wait times may differ for those with private insurance or no insurance at all.
Even within the Medicare population, there was some variation – wait times were longer for women (29 days, versus 24 days for men), younger patients (29 days), blacks and Hispanics (37 days each), people living in large metropolitan areas and the northeast (32 and 33 days, respectively).
"Although these results suggest that doctors and patients shouldn't be concerned about small delays in getting to surgery, we need to continue to monitor how long people are waiting," says Bleicher. "Researchers must ensure that this time interval doesn't increase dramatically or start to affect outcomes in certain patient groups, particularly those who already wait longer than the average."
Journal reference: Journal of Clinical Oncology
Provided by Fox Chase Cancer Center
- Researchers find no disparities in imaging before breast cancer surgery May 17, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Breast cancer patients face increasing number of imaging visits before surgery Dec 09, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Study challenges routine use of MRI scans to evaluate breast cancer Sep 07, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Study challenges routine use of MRI scans to evaluate breast cancer Jun 26, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- Recurring cancers in women with a history of breast cancer differ from the original tumors May 18, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
How can there be a term called "intestinal metaplasia" of stomach
20 hours ago Hello everyone, Ok Stomach's normal epithelium is simple columnar, now in intestinal type of adenocarcinoma of stomach it undergoes "intestinal...
Pressure-volume curve: Elastic Recoil Pressure don't make sense
May 18, 2013 From pressure-volume curve of the lung and chest wall (attached photo), I don't understand why would the elastic recoil pressure of the lung is...
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
May 17, 2013 I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
Ratio of Hydrogen of Oxygen in Dessicated Animal Protein
May 13, 2013 As an experiment, for the past few months I've been consuming at least one portion of Jell-O or unflavored Knox gelatin per day. I'm 64, in very...
Alcohol and acetaminophen
May 13, 2013 Edit: sorry for the typo in the title , can't edit I looked around on google quite a bit and it's very hard to find precise information on the...
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
The gap between life expectancy in patients with a mental illness and the general population has widened since 1985 and efforts to reduce this gap should focus on improving physical health, suggest researchers in a paper ...
Cancer 8 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
By studying the roles two proteins, thrombospondin-1 and prosaposin, play in discouraging cancer metastasis, a trans-Atlantic research team has identified a five-amino acid fragment of prosaposin that significantly reduces ...
Cancer 9 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
A novel transcriptome-based classification of colon cancer that improves the current disease stratification based on clinicopathological variables and common DNA markers is presented in a study published in PLOS Medicine this w ...
Cancer 10 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
A study of veterans at high risk for developing lung cancer shows that low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) can be highly effective in helping clinicians spot tiny lung nodules which, in a small number of patients, may indicate ...
Cancer 11 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
An attack on glioblastoma brain tumor cells that uses a modified poliovirus is showing encouraging results in an early study to establish the proper dose level, researchers at Duke Cancer Institute report.
Cancer 13 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
(Medical Xpress)—Native peoples in regions where cameras are uncommon sometimes react with caution when their picture is taken. The fear that something must have been stolen from them to create the photo ...
15 hours ago | 4.2 / 5 (5) | 0 |
(Medical Xpress)—Despite spending billions of dollars on research and development, drug companies have been unable to come up with effective treatments for dementia and Alzheimer's Disease (AD). Now, A. ...
13 hours ago | 4.9 / 5 (11) | 0 |
Australian scientists have charted the path of insulin action in cells in precise detail like never before. This provides a comprehensive blueprint for understanding what goes wrong in diabetes.
15 hours ago | 4.6 / 5 (7) | 0 |
An experimental sleeping pill from US drug company Merck is effective at helping people fall and stay asleep, according to reviewers at the US Food and Drug Administration, which could soon approve the new drug.
9 hours ago | 3.7 / 5 (3) | 0
Activating an enzyme known to play a role in the anti-aging benefits of calorie restriction delays the loss of brain cells and preserves cognitive function in mice, according to a study published in the May ...
10 hours ago | 5 / 5 (4) | 0 |
A drug commonly used to treat depression and anxiety may improve a stress-related heart condition in people with stable coronary heart disease, according to researchers at Duke Medicine.
11 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |