Equitable clinical practices and policy for breast cancer care

Doctor addressing patient in gown and touching arm for comfort

As the end of Breast Cancer Awareness month approaches, I want to share an area of research that needs greater attention —the importance of appropriate, effective and timely breast cancer care.

Time from diagnosis to primary surgical treatment, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, have considerable impacts on survival and outcomes for patients with early-stage breast cancer. Unfortunately, there is often unwarranted variation in effective and timely treatment which lead to disparities in outcomes.

I authored a study in the Breast Cancer Research and Treatmentjournal that examined factors associated with timely surgical treatment for breast conserving surgery (BCS) versus mastectomy in a large, diverse, commercially insured sample of patients diagnosed with non-metastatic invasive breast cancer. Breast conserving surgery (BCS) is now considered an acceptable alternative to mastectomy for patients with this type of breast cancer.

There were multiple clinical and non-clinical factors associated with the likelihood of receiving BCS and longer time to primary surgical treatment, including:

- Older patients were more likely to receive BCS and have a shorter time to surgery compared to those younger than 50 years of age.

- Patients with dementia or congestive heart failure were less likely to receive BCS and more liketo have a longer time to primary surgical treatment.

Understanding those patient-and community-level factors influencing appropriate, effective and timely breast cancer treatment, including who receives and doesn’t receive quality care will promote better healthcare, increase patient experience and enhance successful outcomes. Overall, this study contributes to informing equitable clinical practices and policy for breast cancer care.

Read the full study here and visit the Merative real-world evidence webpage for more information about what other research is possible with the data available in MarketScan Research Databases.