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Br J Cancer. 1992 Jun; 65(6): 950–955.
PMCID: PMC1977784

Advanced breast cancer and its prevention by screening.


In discussions on breast cancer screening, much attention has been focussed on the possible morbidity generated by screening. Favourable effects like the prevention of advanced disease seem underestimated, probably because quantification is that difficult. To analyse the amount of care and treatment given to women with advanced breast cancer, we report on patients followed from first recurrence until death using patient files and national sources. A random sample of 60 female cases from computerised registries of two cancer centres and a sample of 20 cases from a non-computerised hospital registry was taken. A total of 68 patient files were sufficiently documented. A woman with advanced breast cancer is estimated to have a 39% loss in utility compared to a healthy woman (range 27-45%). Hormonal treatment is the main modality during 14 and chemotherapy during 4 months. Total medical cost from diagnosis of advanced disease until death amounts to 17,100 US dollars, or 21,000 when including extramural cost. The effect of breast cancer screening by preventing the occurrence of advanced disease is quantified. The resulting gain in quality of life contributes 70% of the total gain in quality of life. In the long run, almost half of the annual cost of screening will be offset by savings in the cost for advanced disease. Only the changes in palliative surgery and/or radiotherapy will be small in contrast to primary treatment changes. Besides the mortality reduction, screening is justified by the improvements in quality of life and cost savings for women prevented from reaching advanced disease.

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Articles from British Journal of Cancer are provided here courtesy of Cancer Research UK


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