A worrisome report on breast cancer trends in the U.S. appeared on-line today, ahead of print in an AACR journal, Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.
The analysis, based on the NCI’s SEER data from 2000 — 2007, shows that the incidence of breast cancer in the U.S. is no longer declining. (A drop after 2002 in BC incidence is generally attributed to an abrupt reduction in HRT around that time.)
Since 2003 the overall BC rate has been steady overall, with a few exceptions:
The incidence of BC in non-Hispanic white women ages 60–69 rose by 4.8% in this period. “It remains to be seen if this trend will continue,” according to the study authors.
Among white women ages 40–49 rates of estrogen receptor (ER) positive (ER+) breast cancer significantly increased by an average of 2.7% per year during this period. In contrast, the rate of ER– breast tumors decreased,
See more Breast Cancer Rate in the U.S. is No Longer Declining
On Friday the New York Times reported that surgeons are performing far too many open breast biopsies to evaluate abnormal mammogram results. A new American Journal of Surgery article analyzed data for 172,342 outpatient breast biopsies in the state of Florida. The main finding is that between 2003 and 2008, surgeons performed open biopsies in an operating room – as opposed to less invasive, safer biopsies with needles — in 30 percent of women with abnormal breast images.
I was truly surprised by this should-be outdated statistic, which further tips the mammography math equation in favor or screening.
See more New Numbers Should Factor Into the Mammography Equation
Why bother, you might ask — wouldn’t it be easier to drop the subject? “Make it go away,” sang Sheryl Crow on her radiation sessions. I’ll answer as might a physician and board-certified oncologist who happens to be a BC survivor in her 40s: we need establish how often false positives lead, in current practice, to additional procedures and inappropriate treatment…These numbers matter. They’re essential to the claim that the risks of breast cancer screening outweigh the benefits.
See more A Bit More on False Positives, Dec 2009, Part 1
But consider — if the expert panel’s numbers are off just a bit, by as little as one or two more lives saved per 1904 women screened, the insurers could make a profit! By my calculation, if one additional woman at a cost of, say, $1 million, is saved among the screening group, the provider might break even. And if three women in the group are saved by the procedure, the decision gets easier… Now, imagine the technology has advanced, ever so slightly, that another four or five women are saved among the screening lot. How could anyone, even with a profit motive, elect not to screen those 2000 women?
See more Getting the Math on Mammograms