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Breast cancer patients face increasing number of imaging visits before surgery
Date:12/9/2011

SAN ANTONIO, TX -- Breast cancer patients frequently undergo imaging like mammograms or ultrasounds between their first breast cancer-related doctor visit and surgery to remove the tumor. Evaluations of these scans help physicians understand a person's disease and determine the best course of action. In recent years, however, imaging has increased in dramatic and significant ways, say researchers from Fox Chase Cancer Center. More patients have repeat visits for imaging than they did 20 years ago, and single imaging appointments increasingly include multiple types of imaging.

The researchers, led by Richard Bleicher, M.D., surgical oncologist at Fox Chase, found that between 1992 and 2005, the percentage of patients who had multiple (2+) imaging visits nearly quadrupled. Bleicher says additional visits present a burden to patients, many of whom are elderly, but the stress may be alleviated through better coordination and evaluation by physicians. Bleicher will present his group's findings on Friday, December 9 at the 2011 CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

"The burden to the patient is increasing substantially," Bleicher says. "The number of days patients are having mammograms, MRIs, and ultrasounds is going up steadily year by year. They're having imaging done more frequently on separate dates during the preoperative interval than ever before. It's surprising."

The preoperative interval begins when a patient first reports to a doctor with a breast complaint and ends when the patient undergoes therapeutic surgery to resect a tumor. For the more than 65,000 patients involved in the study, the preoperative interval lasted 37 days on average. The Fox Chase researchers found that in 1992, roughly one in 20 cancer patients (4.9 percent) diagnosed with invasive, non-metastatic cancer underwent imaging twice or more during the preoperative interval. By 2005, that portion had climbed to about one in 5 (19.4 percent). In the ext
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Contact: Diana Quattrone
Diana.Quattrone@fccc.edu
215-728-7784
Fox Chase Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert

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