AAFP experts: family physicians can reduce unneeded breast cancer surgeries
In the 1950s, some health experts believed that certain inadequate and unnecessary surgeries were overrated. At that time, surgeons preferred aggressive surgeries, like radical mastectomies, to remove volumes of lymph nodes. Also at that time, common throat infections were treated with tonsillectomies.
Today, medical professionals favor breast-conserving surgeries as well as medical management, which they believe are better for patients who have early-stage breast cancer. In addition, only children who have severe, recurring throat infections or sleep disorders qualify for tonsillectomies.
Now there is even more new data for other surgeries that may qualify as unnecessary. Spinal fusion unites vertebrae to resolve lower back pain from degenerative discs; however, trials have demonstrated that this surgery does not have any more benefits than cognitive therapy or physical therapy.
Family physicians are often the first ones that patients turn to for medical advice, making them important forerunners in leading this change. Just one primary care doctor for every 10,000 people can decrease surgeries by approximately 7 percent.
"Reducing unnecessary surgeries might be better achieved by helping primary care physicians change their referral patterns rather than targeting the surgeons themselves,” Dr. David Muhlestein, Accountable Care Organizations expert, said.