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Ann Surg Oncol. 2008 Feb;15(2):443-51. Epub 2007 Oct 2.

Patterns of surgical treatment for women diagnosed with early breast cancer in Queensland.

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Viertel Centre for Research in Cancer Control, The Cancer Council Queensland, Spring Hill, Queensland, Australia.



Australian women with early breast cancer should be given the choice between breast-conserving surgery (BCS) or mastectomy. This is the first Australian study to report on patterns of surgical care specifically for early breast cancer at a population level.


Two population-based routine data collections were linked to obtain surgical treatment information for breast cancer cases diagnosed in 2004 in Queensland, from which we identified 1274 cases of early female breast cancer. Logistic regression was used to assess the likelihood of female breast cancer patients having mastectomy, BCS, and axillary node dissection, after adjusting for patient and hospital demographics, tumor size, and comorbidities.


Three-quarters (77%) of women had BCS, 29% had a mastectomy, and 86% had dissection of the axillary lymph nodes. The likelihood of women having mastectomy was higher among women living in rural areas, those treated in public hospitals, and women who had comorbidities of anemia or heart failure. In contrast, BCS was more likely for women treated in private hospitals or hospitals with high surgical caseload. Heart failure decreased the likelihood of BCS. Having an axillary node dissection was more likely among younger women and those treated in high caseload hospitals.


The observed differentials in surgical treatment for early breast cancer patients suggest that access issues may have contributed to the decision-making process. Understanding the reasons why women with early breast cancer choose a certain treatment strategy should be a focus of future research.

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