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Screening for breast cancer can result in early detection of malignancies and lives saved. Many employers now offer periodic screening as an employee health benefit, and some have established screening programs in the workplace. This study was performed to identify the employer costs of breast cancer screening in the workplace, referrals for suspicious findings, and initial treatment of malignant disease. Additionally, the costs for these same services, had they been obtained outside of a workplace screening program, were estimated. Data on program components and associated costs for an established employer based breast cancer screening program were obtained. These costs were compared to those among a hypothetical cohort of women not enrolled in the workplace screening program. From 1989 through 1995, 1,416 women participated in the program. Nearly 2,500 screening mammograms and approximately 2,773 clinical breast examinations were performed, resulting in 292 referrals to physicians outside of the program for additional diagnostic procedures and treatment as needed. These referrals resulted in the detection of 12 malignancies: 8 Stage I; 3 Stage II; and 1 Stage III. Mammographic and clinical breast examination screening cost $249,041; referrals resulting in benign disease or no detectable disease cost $185,002; and referrals resulting in malignant disease, followed by initial treatment, cost $148,530. Therefore, the total cost was $582,573. Approximately 47% of the cost of referrals and initial treatment were due to employee lost productivity. Total cost in the hypothetical cohort was $1,067,948 under the assumptions that all women received screening outside of the workplace, and that the same number of malignancies were detected at the same stage as in the workplace program. These findings indicate referrals resulting in detection of benign disease or no disease accounted for a substantial proportion of the total cost of the program. In addition, employee lost productivity accounted for almost 50%of the cost of all referrals.


Journal article


AAOHN Journal

Publication Date





523 - 529