Examine the Costs That Matter: Saving Lives, not Over-Diagnosis
Costs of over-diagnosis? We can do better.
The excerpt below is a report of a "study" that suggests that the USA spends way too much on breast imaging and breast cancer diagnosis. Now I realize that, as a radiologist, people may read my comments and assume I too am biased. Obviously, it is a challenge for me to prove otherwise.
But here's a suggestion:
Why doesn't someone do a study which looks at the cost savings from the successful diagnosis and treatment of the breast cancers that would never have been caught if mammography screening was NOT standard practice?
I suspect that such a study would more meaningfully expose the truth behind medical progress - that, despite the expenditure of billions of dollars, many more billions of dollars worth of "life years," as actuaries say, have been saved.
Or we can just continue to become indignant when these kinds of thinly-veiled cost containment ploys are published.
Excerpt as follows:
Report: US spending on false-positive mammograms, breast cancer overdiagnoses estimated at $4 billion annually.
According to the AP (4/7, Alonso-Zaldivar), “a new report estimates that the U.S. spends $4 billion a year on unnecessary medical costs due to mammograms that generate false alarms, and on treatment of certain breast tumors unlikely to cause problems.” The research, published in “Health Affairs, breaks the cost down as follows: $2.8 billion resulting from false-positive mammograms and another $1.2 billion attributed to breast cancer overdiagnosis,” which is “the treatment of tumors that grow slowly or not at all, and are unlikely to develop into life-threatening disease during a woman’s lifetime.”