Yale Study Questions Cost Effectiveness of Enhanced Breast Cancer Screenings for Older Women

Yale_logoMore than $1 billion per year is spent on breast cancer screening for older women in the Medicare program. But a study by researchers at the Cancer Outcomes, Public Policy, and Effective Research (COPPER) Center at Yale University finds that enhanced breast cancer screenings for older women may not be cost effective.

The researchers studied more than 137,000 Medicare patients who had not breast cancer before. They analyzed screening history, breast cancer incidence, and associated costs over a two-year period. They found that Medicare spent from $40 to $110 per patient on breast cancer screening, with the higher costs being associated with advanced technological procedures. But the results found that women who had the most advance breast screening technology were no more likely than other women to be detected with breast cancer.

Dr Cary Gross, director of the COPPER Center at Yale and an associate professor of internal medicine at the Yale School of Medicine, stated, “We need further studies to identify which women will benefit from screening, and how to screen effectively and efficiently. In some instances, breast cancer screening can save lives. But no woman wants to undergo testing if it is likely to cause more harm than good, and no health system — particularly ours — can afford to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on screening programs without evidence to support them.”

The study was published on the website of JAMA Internal Medicine, a journal of the American Medical Association. It can be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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