Study: Costly Breast Cancer Treatment More Common At For-Profit Hospitals

Source: Roni Caryn Rabin, Kaiser Health News, Capsules blog, April 28, 2014

Older breast cancer patients who received radiation treatment after surgery were more likely to undergo a more expensive and somewhat controversial type of radiation called brachytherapy if they got their care at for-profit rather than nonprofit hospitals, a new study reports. … “We wanted to see whether for-profit hospitals, which arguably have a greater incentive to provide returns to their shareholders, would be more likely to adopt a higher-reimbursement therapy than a nonprofit hospital — and that’s exactly what we found,” said Dr. Cary P. Gross, a professor of medicine at Yale University School of Medicine and the paper’s senior author. “This reinforces the idea that reimbursement is a significant driver of the adoption of new cancer therapies, which is a shame,” Gross said. “Evidence should be the main driver.” Brachytherapy is a newer type of radiation therapy for breast cancer that involves implanting a radiation source into the lumpectomy cavity of the breast. It is a shorter course of treatment than standard radiation and can be completed in one week instead of four to six weeks. But it costs about twice as much as the standard treatment, and recent studies have questioned its effectiveness and whether its harms may outweigh its benefits….
For-profit hospital ownership status and use of brachytherapy after breast-conserving surgery
Source: Sounok Sen, Pamela R. Soulos, Jeph Herrin, Kenneth B. Roberts, James B. Yu, Beth-Ann Lesnikoski, Joseph S. Ross, Harlan M. Krumholz, Cary P. Gross, Surgery, Volume 155, Issue 5, May 2014