Measuring standards of care for early breast cancer in an insured population

B. E. Hillner, M. K. McDonald, L. Penberthy, C. E. Desch, T. J. Smith, P. Maddux, W. P. Glasheen, S. M. Retchin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Purpose: To demonstrate the use of a combined data base to evaluate the care for local/regional invasive breast cancer in a large insured population of women aged less than 64 years. Patients and Methods: We linked the procedural and hospital claims from Blue Crass Blue Shield (BCBS) of Virginia with clinical stage data from the Virginia Cancer Registry (VCR) from 1989 to 1991. A total of 918 women were assessed with a median age of 50 years; 68% had tumors less than 2 cm, 30% had positive axillary nodes, and 68% were assessed as having local summary stage. A quality-of-care 'report card' was used based on standards of care from international Consensus Conferences. Results: Eight percent had a mastectomy as the initial biopsy procedure. Sixty-nine percent of women ultimately underwent mastectomy. Of those women who underwent lumpectomy, 86% had subsequent radiation. Within 3 months of diagnosis, 43% had a bone scan and 20% a computed tomography (CT) scan. Of women with positive axillary lymph nodes, 83% aged less than 51 years and 52% aged 51 to 64 years received chemotherapy. Fifty-six percent of all women had claims from a medical oncologist. Of women having a total mastectomy, 27% had claims from a plastic surgeon. Sixty-six percent to 76% of women had a mammogram, 24% a bone scan, and 14% a CT scan in the 0-18 and 18-36 month intervals following primary treatment. Conclusion: This study confirms the feasibility of linking sources of data that provide complementary information needed to develop measurements regarding standards of quality and efficiency of oncologic care. This report should serve as an initial benchmark while we await reports from other populations to define the best practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1401-1408
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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