Breast Cancer Surgery Can Be Deleterious for Nursing Home Residents

Nursing home residents with breast cancer should consider their overall health before consenting to surgery, concludes a new study in JAMA Surgery. The study reviewed records of nearly 6,000 female nursing home patients who received inpatient breast cancer surgery from 2003–2013. More than half of these residents had cognitive or functional impairments prior to surgery. The death rate of the residents was much higher than average: 30.9 percent died within the year following surgery, a significant increase from the 25 percent nursing home mortality rate. Of those who survived, 58.3 percent experienced a functional decline in the year following surgery. In reporting the study, Liz Szabo of Kaiser Health News spoke to MSK’s Dr. Deborah Korenstein, who found the increased death rate particularly noteworthy as breast surgery is generally considered low risk.