Pathology Evaluation of Reduction Mammaplasty Specimens and Subsequent Diagnosis of Malignant Breast Disease: A Claims-Based Analysis

  • Erika D. SearsEmail author
  • Yu-Ting Lu
  • Ting-Ting Chung
  • Adeyiza O. Momoh
  • Kevin C. Chung
Original Scientific Report



This study aimed to measure the use of pathology evaluation of breast specimens among patients undergoing reduction mammaplasty and assess rates of new diagnoses of breast disease and associated cost.


We analyzed the Truven MarketScan Databases from 2009 to 2015 to identify adult female patients undergoing reduction mammaplasty for macromastia. We recorded patient age, rates of obtaining pathology evaluation, new diagnoses of benign or malignant breast disease after pathology evaluation, and total cost for the surgery encounter.


Among 17,738 macromastia patients undergoing reduction mammaplasty, 91.3% (n = 16,193) received pathology evaluation. Pathology evaluation rates were clinically similar across age groups <70 years (90.8–92.1%) and slightly lower for patients ≥70 (85.0%). Among 6987 patients less than 40 years who received pathology evaluation, 0.06% (n = 4) were subsequently diagnosed with malignant breast disease within 3 months, compared to 0.23% in the entire cohort (n = 37/16,193). Pathology claims resulted in an added $307 (SD 251) on average for the breast reduction surgery encounters.


Breast tissue after reduction mammaplasty is routinely submitted for pathology evaluation, without consideration of age-based risk for breast cancer. Routine pathology evaluation of breast tissue in patients in lower risk age groups (less than 40 years) required an additional $536,000 on average to detect a single occult breast cancer compared to an added $85,600 to detect a new malignancy in patients 40 years and older. Clinicians and policy makers should consider whether routine pathology evaluation of breast tissue should be individualized based on risk factors for breast cancer.



Dr. Erika D. Sears is supported in part by a Career Development Award Number IK2 HX002592 from the United States (U.S.) Department of Veterans Affairs Health Services R&D (HSRD) Service. The funding organizations had no role in the design and conduct of the study, including collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© This is a U.S. government work and its text is not subject to copyright protection in the United States; however, its text may be subject to foreign copyright protection 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erika D. Sears
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Yu-Ting Lu
    • 1
  • Ting-Ting Chung
    • 4
  • Adeyiza O. Momoh
    • 1
  • Kevin C. Chung
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Surgery, Section of Plastic SurgeryMichigan MedicineAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Veterans Affairs Center for Clinical Management ResearchVA Ann Arbor Healthcare SystemAnn ArborUSA
  3. 3.Institute for Healthcare Policy and InnovationUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  4. 4.Center for Big Data Analytics and Statistics and Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and ImmunologyChang-Gung Memorial HospitalTaoyuanTaiwan

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