Trends in surgical treatment of early-stage breast cancer reveal decreasing mastectomy use between 2003 and 2016 by age, race, and rurality

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2022 Jun;193(2):445-454. doi: 10.1007/s10549-022-06564-w. Epub 2022 Mar 14.


Purpose: To examine trends in the surgical treatment of breast cancer by age, rurality, and among Black women in a populous, racially diverse, state in the Southeastern United States of America.

Methods: We identified women diagnosed with localized or regional breast cancer between 2003 and 2016 in the North Carolina Central Cancer Registry (n = 86,776). Using Joinpoint regression we evaluated the average annual percentage change in proportion of women treated with mastectomy versus breast-conserving surgery overall, by age group, among Black women, and for women residing in rural areas.

Results: Overall, the rate of mastectomy usage in the population declined 2.5% per year between 2003 and 2016 (95% CI - 3.2, - 1.7). Over this same time interval, breast-conserving surgery increased by 1.6% per year (95% CI 0.9, 2.2). These temporal trends in surgery were also observed among Black women and rural residing women. Trends in surgery type varied by age group: mastectomy declined over time among women > 50 years, but not among women aged 18-49 at diagnosis.

Discussion: In contrast to national studies that reported increasing use of mastectomy, we found declining mastectomy rates in the early 2000s in a Southern US state with a racially and geographically diverse population. These decreasing trends were consistent among key subgroups affected by cancer inequities, including Black and White rural women.

Keywords: Breast surgery; Cancer registry; Disparities; Mastectomy rate.

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Breast Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mastectomy*
  • Mastectomy, Segmental
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • North Carolina / epidemiology
  • Registries
  • United States