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ASCO: Unneeded Cancer Care Is Rare, Study Finds

Challenges belief that inappropriate treatments fuel health care costs, researcher says

FRIDAY, May 16, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Cancer patients rarely demand or receive unnecessary tests and treatments, according to a new study released in advance of presentation at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), held from May 30 to June 3 in Chicago.

Researchers surveyed 26 cancer specialists and nurse practitioners shortly after they had met with a total of 2,050 patients at the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania. The health care providers were asked how often patients requested or demanded tests and treatment, whether those requests were appropriate, whether they were granted, and why.

"The results from this new study help debunk many of the misconceptions people have about patient demands leading to unnecessary tests and treatments as a major source of higher health care costs in the United States," study author Keerthi Gogineni, M.D., an instructor in the hematology-oncology division at the cancer center, said in an ASCO news release.

"In this study, inappropriate cancer patient demands were uncommon, and in less than 1 percent of the cases did providers order an inappropriate treatment or test when requested by patients," Gogineni said. "Clinicians felt that the majority of patient-directed requests were appropriate. The data suggests that rather than being driven by patients to employ low-value, high-cost care, most of the time oncologists and nurse practitioners incorporated patients' requests into a suitable plan of action."

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