Unnecessary imaging for early stage breast cancer costs Ontario at least $4.4M over five years

April 19, 2016

One of the greatest fears upon cancer diagnosis is that the cancer may have spread or metastasized throughout the body. The instinct among patients and physicians is often to look for more cancer using a multitude of scans. But for people with early stage breast cancer, the chance of finding a distant metastasis is incredibly small (0.2-1.2%), especially compared to the risks of all the extra testing, which include anxiety, radiation exposure and treatment delays. A new study led by Drs. Kednapa Thavorn and Mark Clemons shows that all this extra testing also has a big financial impact on Canada’s health-care system: at least $4.4M over five years in Ontario alone. The analysis published in Current Oncology is an extension of previous research by this group in CMAJ. Dr. Angel Arnaout, who is also part of the team, is now working with Dr. Janet Squires to develop strategies to reduce this unnecessary imaging.

Authors: Thavorn K, Wang Z, Fergusson D, van Katwyk S, Arnaout A, Clemons M.

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