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Diagnostic and therapeutic path of breast cancer: effectiveness, appropriateness, and costs – results from the DOCMa study

Authors Giovagnoli MR, Bonifacino A, Neglia C, Benvenuto M, Sambati FV, Giolli L, Giovagnoli A, Piscitelli P

Received 7 October 2014

Accepted for publication 29 November 2014

Published 17 April 2015 Volume 2015:10 Pages 741—749


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Walker

Maria Rosaria Giovagnoli,1 Adriana Bonifacino,2 Cosimo Neglia,3 Marco Benvenuto,3,4 Francesco Vincenzo Sambati,3 Lorenzo Giolli,5 Alessandra Giovagnoli,6 Prisco Piscitelli7,8

1Department of Clinical and Molecular Medicine, 2Department of Medical-Surgical Sciences and Translational Medicine, Sapienza University of Rome, Sant’Andrea University Hospital, Rome, 3Euro Mediterranean Scientific Biomedical Institute (ISBEM), Brindisi, 4Department of Economics, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa, 5eCampus University, Novedrate, 6Department of Statistical Sciences, University of Bologna, Bologna, 7Coleman Ltd, 8IOS, Southern Italy Hospital Institute, Naples, Italy

Objective: An increase in breast cancer incidence has been documented in Italy and in other countries, and some women decide by themselves to undergo diagnostic examinations outside the official screening campaigns. The aim of this paper was to analyze – in terms of effectiveness, appropriate access, and related costs – the path spontaneously followed by a sample of Italian women for the early diagnosis of breast cancer.
Subjects and methods: A total of 143 women who consecutively referred themselves to the breast cancer outpatient facilities at the Sant’Andrea University Hospital in Rome from May to June 2007 were enrolled in the study, gave their consent, and were screened according to their individual risk factors for breast cancer. The entire diagnostic and therapeutic path followed in the previous 2 years by each of them, either at Sant’Andrea or in other medical facilities, was reviewed and evaluated in terms of its operative efficiency and fair economic value.
Results: The subjects’ mean age was 47.5 years (standard deviation 13.6 years); 55% of the women were <50 years old (28% <40 years), and were thus not included in the official screening campaigns; 97 women (70%) were requesting a routine control; and 49% of them had already undergone four to seven examinations before the enrollment, although no major risk factor was present in 73.5%. After enrollment in the study, nine of the patients had surgical interventions performed on them at Sant’Andrea’s, identifying five invasive carcinomas and two ductal in situ carcinomas and two benign lesions. Operative efficiency and fair economic value were found to be optimal only in diagnostic/therapeutic paths followed at Sant’Andrea.
Conclusion: The diagnostic path at Sant’Andrea’s specialized center for breast cancer diagnosis and therapy is characterized by higher operative efficiency and more sustainable costs than at general hospitals, outpatient facilities run by local health authorities, or private medical centers. This result seems to confirm the present tendency to refer high-risk patients for breast cancer directly to breast units like the one at Sant’Andrea.

Keywords: breast cancer, early diagnosis, prevention, screening, cost analysis, breast unit

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