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Mammograms cost Medicare $1 billion a year

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Jan. 21, 2013

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Annual Medicare costs for breast cancer screening procedures now total $1 billion, but little is known about whether the screening expenditures are leading to better patient outcomes, according to a study published online Jan. 7 in JAMA Internal Medicine, formerly Archives of Internal Medicine.

The study assessed screening costs and evaluated utilization, cancer incidence, treatment costs and regional variations. The program spends $1.4 billion on breast cancer treatments annually.

“While the body of evidence concerning Medicare expenditures for cancer treatment has grown, relatively little is known about cost associated with screening Medicare beneficiaries for breast cancer,” the study stated. “This is especially important among older women, because recent guidelines have concluded that there is insufficient evidence to assess the benefits and harms of screening mammography in women 75 years or older.”

More than $410 million is being spent on mammographies for beneficiaries 75 years or older.

The study can be read online (link).

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