Geographic variations in breast cancer survival among older women: Implications for quality of breast cancer care

James Goodwin, Jean L. Freeman, Jonathan D. Mahnken, Daniel H. Freeman, Ann B. Nattinger

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Abstract

Background. Breast cancer care, such as utilization of screening procedures and types of treatment received, varies substantially by geographic region of the United States. However, little is known about variations in survival with breast cancer. Methods. We examined breast cancer incidence, survival, and mortality in the 66 health service areas covered by the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program for women aged 65 and older at diagnosis. Incidence and survival data were derived from SEER, while breast cancer mortality data were from Vital Statistics data. Results. There was considerable variation in breast cancer survival among the 66 health service areas (X2 = 202.7, p < .0001). There was also significant variation in incidence and mortality from breast cancer. In a partial correlation weighted for the size of the health service area, both incidence (r = .812) and percent 5-year survival (r = -.587) correlate with mortality. In a Poisson regression analysis, the combination of variation in incidence and variation in survival explains 90.9% of the variation in mortality. Conclusions. There is considerable geographic variation in survival from breast cancer among older women, and this contributes to variation in breast cancer mortality. Geographic variations in breast cancer mortality should diminish as the quality of breast cancer care becomes more standardized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Volume57
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2002

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging

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