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Arch Surg. 2001 Sep;136(9):990-4.

Cost-benefit analysis of biopsy methods for suspicious mammographic lesions; discussion 994-5.

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Division of Surgical Oncology, Suite 3010, UC Davis Cancer Center, 4501 X St, Sacramento, CA 95817, USA.



Stereotactic core biopsy (SCB) is more cost-effective than needle-localized biopsy (NLB) for evaluation and treatment of mammographic lesions.


A computer-generated mathematical model was developed based on clinical outcome modeling to estimate costs accrued during evaluation and treatment of suspicious mammographic lesions. Total costs were determined for evaluation and subsequent treatment of cancer when either SCB or NLB was used as the initial biopsy method. Cost was estimated by the cumulative work relative value units accrued. The risk of malignancy based on the Breast Imaging Reporting Data System (BIRADS) score and mammographic suspicion of ductal carcinoma in situ were varied to simulate common clinical scenarios.


Total cost accumulated during evaluation and subsequent surgical therapy (if required).


Evaluation of BIRADS 5 lesions (highly suggestive, risk of malignancy = 90%) resulted in equivalent relative value units for both techniques (SCB, 15.54; NLB, 15.47). Evaluation of lesions highly suspicious for ductal carcinoma in situ yielded similar total treatment relative value units (SCB, 11.49; NLB, 10.17). Only for evaluation of BIRADS 4 lesions (suspicious abnormality, risk of malignancy = 34%) was SCB more cost-effective than NLB (SCB, 7.65 vs. NLB, 15.66).


No difference in cost-benefit was found when lesions highly suggestive of malignancy (BIRADS 5) or those suspicious for ductal carcinoma in situ were evaluated initially with SCB vs. NLB, thereby disproving the hypothesis. Only for intermediate-risk lesions (BIRADS 4) did initial evaluation with SCB yield a greater cost savings than with NLB.

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