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Radiology. 2006 Sep;240(3):650-5.

Clinical breast examination in a comprehensive breast cancer screening program: contribution and cost.

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Guttman Diagnostic Center, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, 55 Fifth Ave, 12th Floor, New York, NY 10003, USA.



To retrospectively evaluate the cost of clinical breast examination (CBE) and its contribution to screening mammography in the detection of breast cancer.


The study received a waiver of authorization from the institutional review board, informed patient consent was not required, and the study was compliant with HIPAA regulations. The records of 60 027 consecutive asymptomatic patients who underwent screening mammography were retrospectively reviewed. CBE was performed on all patients by a nurse practitioner. Patients with positive CBE findings were required to convert from screening to diagnostic evaluation; the number of cancer diagnoses that resulted was determined. The reports, four-view mammograms, or both of patients requiring conversion to diagnostic evaluation were reviewed to determine those patients likely to undergo diagnostic imaging on the basis of screening mammographic findings alone. The cost of CBE was calculated and divided by the number of cancers detected solely with CBE to determine the cost of CBE per additional cancer detected.


Four hundred seventy-four (age range, 32-95) of 60 027 asymptomatic patients had positive CBE findings which required conversion to diagnostic evaluation. Forty-six cancers in 44 patients were subsequently diagnosed; 32 would have been detected with mammography alone, whereas 14 were imperceptible at screening mammography. The cost of CBE was $122 598 per cancer detected solely with positive CBE findings.


CBE performed by nurse practitioners led to the diagnosis of 14 cancers in 13 patients with mammographically occult tumors (0.02% of the screening population and approximately 3% of all cancers diagnosed at the facility during this study). The cost of detecting these additional cancers is estimated to be $122 598 per cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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