Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Most Medicare patients wait weeks before breast cancer surgery

Date:
November 19, 2012
Source:
Fox Chase Cancer Center
Summary:
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 show that these waits are typical in the United States.

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 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, MD, FACS, 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."

Dr. Bleicher's co-authors include Karen Ruth, Elin R. Sigurdson, Eric Ross, Yu-Ning Wong, Sameer A. Patel, Marcia Boraas,Neal S. Topham, and Brian L. Egleston from Fox Chase.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Fox Chase Cancer Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Fox Chase Cancer Center. "Most Medicare patients wait weeks before breast cancer surgery." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121119163454.htm>.
Fox Chase Cancer Center. (2012, November 19). Most Medicare patients wait weeks before breast cancer surgery. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121119163454.htm
Fox Chase Cancer Center. "Most Medicare patients wait weeks before breast cancer surgery." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121119163454.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Condemned Man's US Execution Takes Nearly Two Hours

Condemned Man's US Execution Takes Nearly Two Hours

AFP (July 24, 2014) America's death penalty debate raged Thursday after it took nearly two hours for Arizona to execute a prisoner who lost a Supreme Court battle challenging the experimental lethal drug cocktail. Duration: 00:55 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A study by German researchers claims watching TV while you're stressed out can make you feel guilty and like a failure. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins