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Fewer Women Having Inpatient Breast Cancer Surgery

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AHRQ News and Numbers

Release date: October 25, 2006

Hospital admissions for breast cancer fell by a third between 1997 and 2004, according to a new report by from the Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The decline reflects, in part, the shift to outpatient facilities for breast cancer surgeries, plus the growing use of breast-conserving operations such as lumpectomies, which are typically performed on an outpatient basis.

The hospitalization rate for women with breast cancer dropped from 90 per 100,000 women to slightly less than 61 per 100,000 women during the period, and the number of hospital stays for the disease declined from about 125,000 to 90,000.

The study also found that:

  • In 2004, mastectomies—the removal of the entire breast and some of the lymph nodes beneath the arm—accounted for 70 percent of hospital-based breast cancer surgeries.
  • Lumpectomies, in which the malignant tumor and some surrounding tissue is removed, comprised 14 percent of hospital-based breast cancer surgeries in 2004.
  • Between 1997 and 2004, inpatient mastectomy rates decreased by 32 percent, while lumpectomy rates declined by 45 percent.
  • Breast cancer hospitalizations occurred most often in Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, and other northeastern states (76 admissions per 100,000 women).
  • Breast cancer hospitalizations were lowest in Arizona, California, Hawaii, and other western States (54 hospitalizations per 100,000 women).
  • The average expense for a breast cancer patient stay—the cost paid by hospitals to treat the patient—was $6,500, and nearly 85 percent of all hospital stays were billed to private insurance and Medicare.

These statistics are from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a database of hospital inpatient stays that is nationally representative of all short-term, non-Federal hospitals. The data are drawn from hospitals that comprise 90 percent of all discharges in the United States and include all patients, regardless of insurance type, as well as the uninsured. For more data, see Hospital Stays for Breast Cancer, 2004, HCUP Statistical Brief No. 15 (PDF Help).

To speak with an AHRQ data expert, or for information from previous AHRQ News and Numbers summaries, contact Bob Isquith at or call (301) 427-1539.

Current as of October 2006


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