Precaution Costs: The Presumption of Breast Cancer Seeding and Its Impact on Surgical Expenditure

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As healthcare costs continue to rise at unsustainable rates (at an average rate of 5.5% a year), expenses without measurable outcomes need review.1In reconstructive surgery, empiric change of instruments between oncologic and reconstructive segments of surgery is one such practice. Breast surgery for ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), prophylaxis, and partial extirpation has little possible increase in seeding or implantation risk based on the literature. With undue extrapolation from higher risk cancers (such as ovarian), preventative practices of changing out trays, re-gloving, re-gowning, re-preparing, and re-draping between phases persist in operating rooms across the country. From real case costs, the additional expense of 2 surgical setups in the United States is conservatively estimated at $1232 per case, or over $125 million per year for this theoretical risk. Using implantation risk for core breast biopsies as a denominator, this cost is $1.65-$5.8 million per potential recurrence. This is an unacceptably high cost for hypothetical recurrence risk reduction, especially one that does not impact survival outcomes.

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