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JAMA Surg. 2018 Jun 1;153(6):559-568. doi: 10.1001/jamasurg.2017.5572.

Incidence and Outcome of Breast Biopsy Procedures During Follow-up After Treatment for Breast Cancer.

Author information

Department of Breast Surgical Oncology, Division of Surgery, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas.
Department of Health Services Research, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas.
Department of Radiation Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas.
Department of Diagnostic Radiology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas.



No comprehensive data are available regarding the frequency of breast biopsies performed during follow-up of treatment for invasive breast cancer.


To determine how often patients treated for breast cancer require breast biopsies during follow-up.

Design, Setting, and Participants:

This nationwide population-based cohort study included 41 510 patients 64 years or younger in a commercial insurance database and 80 369 patients 66 years or older in the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER)-Medicare database. Patients were diagnosed with incident invasive breast cancer (stages I-III) from January 1, 2000, through December 31, 2011. Diagnosis and procedural codes were used to identify biopsy rates during follow-up. Data were analyzed from March 3 through October 3, 2017.

Main Outcomes and Measures:

Cumulative incidence and adjusted risk of breast biopsy and subsequent breast cancer treatment were calculated using the Kaplan-Meier method and Cox proportional hazards regression. All statistical tests were 2 sided.


Among the 121 879 patients in the study population, 5- and 10-year overall incidences of breast biopsy were 14.7% and 23.4%, respectively, in the commercial insurance cohort and 11.8% and 14.9%, respectively, in the SEER-Medicare cohort. The 5-year estimated incidence of breast biopsy was higher among women treated with brachytherapy (24.0% in the commercial insurance and 25.0% in the SEER-Medicare cohorts) than among those treated with whole-breast irradiation (16.7% in the commercial insurance and 15.1% in the SEER-Medicare cohorts) and persisted after multivariate adjustment in the commercial insurance (hazard ratio [HR], 1.53; 95% CI, 1.38-1.70; P < .001) and SEER-Medicare (HR, 1.76; 95% CI, 1.63-1.91; P < .001) cohorts. Adjuvant chemotherapy use (HR, 1.31; 95% CI, 1.25-1.37; P < .001) and patient age (>85 vs 66-69 years; HR, 0.40; 95% CI, 0.36-0.44; P < .001) in the SEER-Medicare cohort and endocrine therapy in the commercial insurance (HR, 0.88; 95% CI, 0.82-0.93; P < .001) and SEER-Medicare (HR, 0.91; 95% CI, 0.85-0.97; P = .002) cohorts were independently associated with biopsy. After unilateral mastectomy, the estimated 5-year contralateral breast biopsy rates were 10.4% and 7.7% in the commercial insurance and SEER-Medicare cohorts, respectively. Of the patients with breast biopsy, 1239 of 4158 patients (29.8%) in the commercial insurance cohort and 2258 of 9747 patients (23.2%) in the SEER-Medicare cohort underwent subsequent cancer treatment.

Conclusions and Relevance:

These data on the need for breast biopsies during follow-up and subsequent treatments from a large cohort of women with commercial insurance and Medicare can be used in the context of therapy-planning discussions and survivorship expectations for patients with breast cancer.

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