Reoperation after breast-conserving surgery for cancer in Australia: statewide cohort study of linked hospital data

Journal BMJ Open
Authors van Leeuwen MT, Falster MO, Vajdic CM, Crowe PJ, Lujic S, Klaes E, Jorm L, Sedrakyan A
Year Published 2018
Link to publication



To investigate between-hospital variation in the probability of reoperation within 90 days of initial breast-conserving surgery (BCS), and the contribution of health system-level and other factors.


Population-based, retrospective cohort study.


New South Wales (NSW), Australia.


Linked administrative hospitalisation data were used to define a cohort of adult women undergoing initial BCS for breast cancer in NSW between 1 July 2002 and 31 December 2013.


Multilevel, cross-classified models with patients clustered within hospitals and residential areas were used to examine factors associated with any reoperation, and either re-excision or mastectomy, within 90 days.


Of 34‚ÄČ458 women undergoing BCS, 29.1% underwent reoperation within 90 days, half of which were mastectomies. Overall, the probability of reoperation decreased slightly over time. However, there were divergent patterns by reoperation type; the probability of re-excision increased alongside a concomitant decrease in the probability of mastectomy. Significant between-hospital variation was observed. Non-metropolitan location and surgery at low-volume hospitals were associated with a higher overall probability of reoperation, and of mastectomy specifically, after accounting for patient-level factors, calendar year and area-level socioeconomic status. The magnitude of association with geographical location and surgical volume decreased over time.


Reoperation rates within 90 days of BCS varied significantly between hospitals. For women undergoing mastectomy after BCS, this represents a dramatic change in clinical course. Multilevel modelling suggests unwarranted clinical variation may be an issue, likely due to disparities in access to multidisciplinary breast cancer care and preoperative diagnostic procedures. However, the observed reduction in disparities over time is encouraging and indicates that guidelines and policy initiatives have the potential to improve regional breast cancer care.