Early-stage breast cancer patients get too much testing: study

“Early-stage breast cancer patients get too much testing: study,” by Elizabeth Payne, Ottawa Citizen.

A study of 26,547 patients found that nearly 80 per cent of those with Stage 1 breast cancer and more than 90 per cent of those with Stage 2 had unnecessary tests, according to guidelines set out by Cancer Care Ontario, the American Society of Clinical Oncologists and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, as well as others. Many had had multiple tests. The study included more than 83,000 imaging tests.

International and national guidelines recommend against such testing for early-stage breast cancer patients — commonly involving bone scans, CT scans or MRIs — saying it offers little benefit and potential harm to patients.

The likelihood of Stage 1 breast cancer having metastasized is about 0.2 per cent, according to researchers, and the likelihood of Stage 2 breast cancer having spread is about 1.2 per cent. Those rates have not changed significantly, despite the widespread use of imaging tests on patients. The study found that about a quarter of patients with Stage 1 and Stage 2 breast cancer who had unnecessary imaging done ended up having additional tests because of false positive findings.

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