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Ann Surg. 2000 Aug;232(2):220-4.

The quality of early-stage breast cancer care.

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  • 1Departments of Health Policy, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York 10029, USA.



To assess whether recent practice has improved, the authors created detailed, evidence-based guidelines and assessed the quality of early-stage breast cancer care at four hospitals in the metropolitan New York area.


Adjuvant treatments for early-stage breast cancer have been shown to improve health and longevity. However, reports from the 1980s showed marked underuse of these therapies.


All 723 women with early-stage breast cancer who had a definitive surgical procedure at four participating hospitals in the Mount Sinai-NYU Health System between April 1994 and August 1996 were included. Inpatient and outpatient records were abstracted.


Fifty-nine percent of women underwent breast-conserving surgery, of whom 81% received radiation therapy. Hospital-specific radiation therapy rates varied from 69% to 87%. Seventy-eight percent of women with stage 1B or greater cancer received systemic treatment, with hospital-specific rates varying from 71% to 86%. Between 18% and 33% of women who could have benefited from local or systemic adjuvant treatments did not receive them. The risk of not getting a beneficial adjuvant treatment varied more than twofold by the hospital where the breast cancer surgery was performed.


The hospital where breast cancer surgery is performed is associated with the likelihood that women receive effective local and systemic adjuvant treatments. Surgeons and members of hospital quality improvement programs should encourage multidisciplinary approaches to breast cancer care.

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