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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Report: US Spending On False-Positive Mammograms, Breast Cancer Overdiagnoses Estimated At $4 Billion Annually

According to the AP (4/7, Alonso-Zaldivar), “a new report estimates that the U.S. spends $4 billion a year on unnecessary medical costs due to mammograms that generate false alarms, and on treatment of certain breast tumors unlikely to cause problems.” The research, published in “Health Affairs, breaks the cost down as follows: $2.8 billion resulting from false-positive mammograms and another $1.2 billion attributed to breast cancer overdiagnosis,” which is “the treatment of tumors that grow slowly or not at all, and are unlikely to develop into life-threatening disease during a woman’s lifetime.”

CNBC (4/7) reports that “those costs are so high that they ‘may tilt the balance to the point where screening appears relatively cost-ineffective,’ the authors wrote in the conclusion of the report, which looked at expenditure data from more than 702,000 women with health insurance.”

On its website, NBC News (4/7, Fox) reports on the study, and also reports that a second study published in Health Affairs “shows that new treatments for women who really do have breast cancer may cost more, but they are helping them survive longer than older treatments.”

The New Haven (CT) Register (4/7) reports that investigators “compared breast cancer survival rates and treatment costs in two time periods, 1994-96 and 2004-06, analyzing Medicare billing records of 9,708 women between 67 and 94 years old.”

HealthDay (4/7, Dallas) reports that the researchers found “that the costs for treating women with stage 3 breast cancer jumped from $18,100 to roughly $32,600.” The data also indicated that “the five-year survival rate for these women improved from 38.5 percent to 52 percent.”

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