Publication Abstract

Authors: Keating NL, Landrum MB, Guadagnoli E, Winer EP, Ayanian JZ

Title: Surveillance testing among survivors of early-stage breast cancer.

Journal: J Clin Oncol 25(9):1074-81

Date: 2007 Mar 20

Abstract: PURPOSE: Guidelines recommend against routine surveillance testing for women who have had breast cancer. We described follow-up care for breast cancer survivors, examined how surveillance testing varies by the types of physicians seen, and assessed changes in testing rates over time. METHODS: Using Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results-Medicare data, we studied a population-based cohort of 44,511 women age > or = 65 years diagnosed with stage I/II breast cancer during 1992 to 1999 and observed through 2001. We measured bone scans, tumor antigen tests, chest x-rays, and other chest/abdominal imaging during 3 consecutive surveillance years. We described physicians seen in follow-up and used repeated-measures logistic regression to assess the relationship with testing and to assess testing trends over time. RESULTS: Nearly half of breast cancer survivors saw a medical oncologist in surveillance year 1, but only 27% saw a medical oncologist annually for 3 years. In adjusted analyses, women seeing medical oncologists had more bone scans, tumor antigen testing, chest x-rays, and chest/abdominal imaging than other women (all P < .001). Nevertheless, rates of testing decreased over time (all P < .001). Rates of tumor antigen testing and chest x-rays decreased faster and chest/abdominal imaging increased slower among women seeing medical oncologists than among other women (all P < .05). CONCLUSION: Non-recommended testing for early-stage breast cancer patients has decreased over time. Although most breast cancer survivors did not see oncologists annually, those who did had substantially higher rates of testing than others; whether such testing in this low-risk population was due to more symptoms or excessive surveillance is an important question for additional study.