PURPOSE: to evaluate the cost of preventive mammographic screening in climacteric women, as compared to the cost of breast cancer treatment in more advanced stages. METHODS: one thousand and fourteen patients attended at the Climacteric outpatient service of the Gynecology Department, Federal University of São Paulo Paulista School of Medicine, were included in the study and submitted to mammographic test. All mammographic test's were analyzed by the same two physicians and classified according to the BI-RADS (Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System American College of Radiology) categories. The detected lesions were submitted to cytological and histological examination. RESULTS: the final diagnostic impression of the 1014 examinations, according to the classification of BI-RADS categories was: 1=261, 2=671, 3=59, 4=22 and 5=1. The invasive procedures were performed through a needle guided by ultrasound or stereotactic examinations: 33 fine-needle aspiration biopsies, 6 core biopsies guided by ultrasound and 20 core biopsies guided by stereotactic examination. Five cancer diagnoses were established. The total cost of this screening based on Brazilian procedure values was R$ 76,593.79 (25,534 dollars). Therefore, the cost of the diagnosis of the five cases of cancer in this screening was R$ 15,318.75 (5,106 dollars) each. However, the average cost per patient screened was R$ 75.53 (25 dollars). CONCLUSIONS: considering that the total treatment cost of only one case of breast cancer in advanced stage including hospital costs, surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormonal treatment is similar to the cost of 1,000 mammographic screenings in climacteric women, it may be concluded that the cost of the early cancer diagnosis program is worth it and should be included in the public health program, as a way of lowering the public health expense.
Breast neoplasms; Mammography; Climacteric