Breast Cancer Surgery Rates Vary Greatly in Canada

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Those living farther from radiation centers more likely to receive  mastectomy, study findsWEDNESDAY, June 18, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Breast cancer surgery rates vary significantly across Canada, a new study finds.

Breast cancer surgery is the most common treatment for early stage breast cancer. Surgical options include breast removal (mastectomy) or breast conserving surgery (lumpectomy with radiation therapy). Long-term survival is similar with both surgical treatments.

Researchers analyzed data from more than 57,800 women across Canada who had breast cancer surgery between 2007 to 2008 and 2009 to 2010. Patients younger than 49 and older than 70 had a higher mastectomy rate (48 percent) than middle-aged patients (40 percent).

Mastectomy rates were highest in Newfoundland and Labrador at 69 percent and lowest in Quebec at 26 percent, according to the study published in the June 17 Canadian Medical Association Journal online.

The farther away breast cancer patients lived from radiation facilities, the more likely they were to have a mastectomy. The researchers also found that the richest women were less likely to have a mastectomy than the poorest women -- 39 percent vs. 49 percent.

Among women who had lumpectomy, 23 percent underwent surgery a year later to remove cancerous tissue. However, this rate varied substantially depending on the province or territory where patients lived.

About 6 percent of patients who had the breast with cancer removed also later had their other breast removed as a preventive measure, which is about half the rate in the United States.

The findings are "an important first step in understanding how care can be improved," according to Dr. Geoff Porter in a journal news release. Porter is chair of surgical oncology and professor of surgery at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about breast cancer treatment.

SOURCE: Canadian Medical Association Journal, news release, June 17, 2014

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1 Comment

Thu Jun 19, 2014 04:14 AM

I live in Canada and the whole story above just doesn't "fit". I am 66 years old. Upon diagnosis of breast cancer, I had read that if you have to have a mastectomy, it's a good idea to have both removed so your weight balances out on both sides. My surgeon gave me a firm no. I asked about breast re-construction and he again said no. Between our provincial medical and my husband's medical from his previous work, cost is NOT a factor but no one asked. I began to believe that I was being told no because I have an aggressive form of breast cancer and - I thought it meant they didn't really expect me to make it through. My treatments seem to be the same as pretty much everyone except, more frequently. I have chemo every two weeks instead of every three. I have three treatments left before radiation. I've had a single mastectomy. I live about an hours drive from my radiation source. I don't understand the idea of "richer versus poorer" treatment. I can have reconstructive surgery when all is done or I can choose the custom bras. The first four chemo for me, were not difficult. This next four, are apparently easier for many women. I've had one but the body aches that accompany it really wore me out. I'm still ready though for number two on Monday. I'm not rich, I'm not poor and to the best of my knowledge, my entire treatment ( including up to 30 radiation days) will cost me no more or no less than any other BC woman (or man) with breast cancer. Radiologist says I have the most common form of breast cancer there is even though it did move into my lymph nodes. I've had two CT scans, one PET scan and a Nuclear scan. Maybe some provinces don't offer as much. Only two provinces charge citizens a monthly premium for health care and BC is one that does. It's the only cost difference between what the article talks about that seems evident to me that could count as richer or poorer, regarding treatment. IF that is true, i'm sure residents of other provinces would opt for paying premiums.
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