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Younger, early breast cancer patients often undergo unnecessary staging, imaging procedures at time
Date:12/12/2013

SAN ANTONIO More than one third of younger, early stage breast cancer patients undergo unnecessary imaging procedures including position emission tomography (PET), computed tomography (CT), nuclear medicine bone scans (NMBS) and tumor markers (TM) -- at the time of staging and diagnosis, according to research from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Presented at a poster session at the 2013 CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium by Carlos Barcenas, M.D., assistant professor in MD Anderson's Breast Medical Oncology, the study is the first to look at the issue of over-use of staging procedures, including imaging and tumor markers in the diagnosis setting, specifically in younger, early-stage breast cancer patients.

Over-testing and unnecessary procedures extends beyond cancer care across the healthcare continuum. To help address the issue, the American Board of Internal Medicine began "Choosing Wisely," an initiative encouraging physicians and patients to have conversations that encourage its reduction.

As part of its participation in the national campaign, last year, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) generated a "top five list" which recommended against the use of CT, PET, TM and NMBS in the diagnosis and staging of early-stage breast cancer at low risk for metastasis. Rather, treatment guidelines clearly state that for women with early-stage breast cancer, the proper procedures for diagnosis include mammogram, ultrasound, clinical exam and blood work, said Barcenas.

"We've known that overuse of staging procedures is a problem as well it may affect the cost-effectiveness in diagnosing women with early breast cancer," said Barcenas. "With ASCO's inclusion of this issue in its top five recommendations last year as part of its 'Choosing Wisely' campaign, this gave us the idea for the study -- to investigate and understand just how pervasive the problem really is."

For the retro
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Contact: Laura Sussman
lsussman@mdanderson.org
832-264-8893
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert

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