The first comprehensive national review of breast-conserving therapy (BCT) shows that over the past 13 years rates of using the less invasive treatment for early-stage breast cancer have increased at a steady pace. The review, published online in JAMA Surgery, also highlights important demographic factors that affect which patients have access to BCT. MD Anderson researchers found declines in disparities related to age, treatment facility type and geographic region, but they also identified several socioeconomic factors, such as insurance, income and travel distance, as key barriers to BCT.
“Strides have been made to reduce disparities in the use of this effective treatment for early-stage breast cancer. But despite significant progress, there are significant pockets of women where this therapy is underutilized,” says principal investigator Isabelle Bedrosian, M.D., F.A.C.S., associate professor, Surgical Oncology, and medical director, Nellie B. Connally Breast Center at MD Anderson. “The socioeconomic barriers are unlikely to be erased without health policy changes.”