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Amy Ly, Jill C. Ono, Kevin S. Hughes, Martha B. Pitman, and Ronald Balassanian

Background: Timeliness is an important and recognized measure of health care quality. Multiple health organizations worldwide have published timeliness targets for breast cancer care. We performed the first comparison of patient wait times and utilization patterns for palpable breast mass diagnosis and treatment with regard to biopsy method. Patients and Methods: Palpable breast masses in women biopsied via a fine-needle aspiration (FNA) or core biopsy at 2 affiliated academic medical centers in 2009 were analyzed if subsequently treated with excision or neoadjuvant therapy. Patient demographics, mass size and radiologic features, pathology diagnoses, and wait times to diagnosis and treatment were recorded. Results: Patients diagnosed by FNA biopsy received their biopsy diagnosis more than 8 days sooner than those diagnosed by core biopsy. Most FNA biopsies occurred the same day the patient clinically presented. Time to treatment did not differ significantly between groups. Both biopsy methods demonstrated comparable diagnostic accuracy. Breast masses diagnosed by FNA biopsy had Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System (BI-RADS) scores ranging from 1 through 5, whereas nearly all core biopsy cases had a BI-RADS score of 4 or greater. All patient groups were demographically comparable and presented with similar breast mass sizes. Conclusions: Wait times for breast biopsies were significantly shorter for patients diagnosed by FNA compared with core biopsy. FNA biopsy was often used to evaluate breast masses of low clinical suspicion. In light of health care goals for practice improvement and cost containment, breast FNA biopsy may be an underused resource.

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Robert W. Carlson, Susan Moench, Arti Hurria, Lodovico Balducci, Harold J. Burstein, Lori J. Goldstein, William J. Gradishar, Kevin S. Hughes, Mohammad Jahanzeb, Stuart M. Lichtman, Lawrence B. Marks, Joan S. McClure, Beryl McCormick, Lisle M. Nabell, Lori J. Pierce, Mary Lou Smith, Neal S. Topham, Tiffany A. Traina, John H. Ward, and Eric P. Winer

Breast cancer is common in older women, and the segment of the U.S. population aged 65 years and older is growing rapidly. Consequently, awareness is increasing of the need to identify breast cancer treatment recommendations to assure optimal, individualized treatment of older women with breast cancer. However, the development of these recommendations is limited by the heterogeneous nature of this population with respect to functional status, social support, life expectancy, and the presence of comorbidities, and by the underrepresentation of older patients with breast cancer in randomized clinical trials. The NCCN Breast Cancer in the Older Woman Task Force was convened to provide a forum for framing relevant questions on topics that impact older women with early-stage, locally advanced, and metastatic breast cancer. The task force is a multidisciplinary panel of 18 experts in breast cancer representing medical oncology, radiation oncology, surgical oncology, geriatric oncology, geriatrics, plastic surgery, and patient advocacy. All task force members were from NCCN institutions and were identified and invited solely by NCCN. Members were charged with identifying evidence relevant to their specific expertise. During a 2-day meeting, individual members provided didactic presentations; these presentations were followed by extensive discussions during which areas of consensus and controversy were identified on topics such as defining the “older” breast cancer patient; geriatric assessment tools in the oncology setting; attitudes of older patients with breast cancer and their physicians; tumor biology in older versus younger women with breast cancer; implementation of specific interventions in older patients with breast cancer, such as curative surgery, surgical axillary staging, radiation therapy, reconstructive surgery, endocrine therapy, chemotherapy, HER2-directed therapy, and supportive therapies; and areas requiring future studies. (JNCCN 2008;6[Suppl 4]:S1–S25)

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Laura Spring, Rachel Greenup, Andrzej Niemierko, Lidia Schapira, Stephanie Haddad, Rachel Jimenez, Suzanne Coopey, Alphonse Taghian, Kevin S. Hughes, Steven J. Isakoff, Leif W. Ellisen, Barbara L. Smith, Michelle Specht, Beverly Moy, and Aditya Bardia

Purpose: Breast cancer in young women is associated with an aggressive tumor biology and higher risk of recurrence. Pathologic complete response (pCR) after neoadjuvant therapy has been shown to be a surrogate marker for disease-free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS), but the association between pCR and survival outcomes in young women with breast cancer is not well described. Methods: This study included women aged ≤40 years at diagnosis who received neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) for stage II–III invasive breast cancer between 1998 and 2014 at Massachusetts General Hospital. Outcomes were compared between patients who achieved pCR (ypT0/is, ypN0) and those with residual disease. Results: A total of 170 young women were included in the analytical data set, of which 53 (31.2%) achieved pCR after NAC. The 5-year DFS rate for patients with and without pCR was 91% versus 60%, respectively (P<.01), and the OS rate was 95% versus 75%, respectively (P<.01). Among patients with pCR, no difference was seen in OS irrespective of baseline clinical stage (P=.6), but among patients with residual disease after NAC, a significant difference in OS based on baseline clinical stage was observed (P<.001). Conclusions: Our results suggest pCR after NAC is strongly associated with significantly improved DFS and OS in young women with breast cancer, and perhaps even more so than baseline stage. However, the significantly higher mortality for patients who did not attain pCR highlights the need for better therapies, and the neoadjuvant trial design could potentially serve as an efficient method for rapid triage and escalation/de-escalation of therapies to improve outcomes for young women with breast cancer.