Study suggests there’s too much imaging of low-risk prostate- and breast-cancer patients in the Evansville and Louisville areas

Hospitals and doctors in the Evansville and Louisville areas may be doing too much medical imaging on patients with low-risk prostate or breast cancer, according to a study of cases in the middle of the last decade.

Researchers at New York University examined Medicare records from 2004 through 2007 of 9,219 men with low-risk
prostate cancer and 30,398 women with low-risk breast cancer, across 84 of the nation’s hospital referral regions. They concluded that unnecessary imaging was done in 44 percent of men and 42 percent of women, they report in the journal JAMA Oncology.

The report did not give rates for each hospital region, but ranked them, and Evansville was second, right behind Slidell, La., and Louisville was 24th. Owensboro was 37th. Other regions listed were Paducah, 45th; Nashville, 57th; and Lexington, 78th. For the study appendix, listing the hospital areas and their rankings, click here.

The study found that “hospitals in the Northeast reported
higher use of imaging tests for low-risk patients, while other regions,
such as the Northwest and Utah, demonstrated more appropriate use of
imaging,” an NYU press release said. It quoted Dr. Danil V. Makarov, the lead investigator and professor, as saying, “Policy
makers and researchers need to target high-utilization regions and
promote incentives for appropriate care. Such a focus would enhance
efforts to cut excessive health spending and build value-based
strategies into health care practice.”

Imaging for prostate cancer generally involves CT scans or bone scans. Imaging for breast cancer generally involves CT, MR and PET scans.

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