BACKGROUND. Clinical practice guidelines for the management of breast carcinoma were introduced in Australia in October, 1995. This article describes the management of early-stage breast carcinoma both before and after the introduction of these guidelines. METHODS. All cases of early breast carcinoma that were diagnosed over the same 6-month period in 1995 and 1999 and registered with a state-based cancer registry were identified. Treating surgeons completed a survey assessing tumor characteristics and primary treatment. In 1995, 95% of 188 surgeons who were approached participated and 96% of the surveys were returned. In 1999, 92% of 159 surgeons who were approached participated and 91% of the surveys were returned. Analyses are based on 1066 cases from 1995 and 1001 cases from 1999. RESULTS. The pathologic disease stage of the patients was similar in both study years. The proportion of patients who underwent breast-conserving therapy (BCT) increased from 54% in 1995 to 69% in 1999. This increase was noted across most levels of disease characteristics but was not evident among those patients treated by the least active surgeons. The proportion of patients treated with BCT who received radiotherapy increased from 59% in 1995 to 80% in 1999. This trend was observed across most levels of tumor characteristics and surgeon caseload. The proportion of women with receptor-positive tumors who were treated with endocrine therapy increased, whereas the proportion of patients with receptor-negative tumors who received this therapy decreased from 39% in 1995 to 17% in 1999. CONCLUSIONS. The management of early breast carcinoma in the state of Victoria appeared to change between 1995 and 1999 in the direction expected if the national guidelines had been incorporated into the practice patterns of surgeons treating breast carcinoma patients.
- Clinical practice guidelines