Research Paper| Volume 14, ISSUE 2, 101425, March 2023

Emergency department visits and hospitalizations in older women treated for early stage breast cancer

Published:January 18, 2023DOI:



      Older patients with cancer often require acute care treatment through emergency department (ED) visits and hospitalizations. This study investigates acute care utilization through ED visits and hospitalizations during treatment and in the two years following the completion of primary treatment for early stage breast cancer (EBC) in women aged 65 and older.

      Materials and Methods

      A retrospective analysis including descriptive statistics, univariate analysis, and relative risk analysis of 256 women with EBC was performed through medical record review of demographics, comorbidities, disease characteristics, treatment details, and causes of hospitalizations and ED visits.


      Both hospitalizations and ED visits were significantly more frequent for patients in the post-primary treatment period compared to during treatment (hospitalizations: 22% post-primary treatment vs 13% during treatment, 95% confidence interval [CI] of true difference = 2.5%-15.5; ED visits: 21% post-primary treatment vs 10% during treatment, 95% CI of true difference = 4.8%–17.2%). Both hospitalizations (79% versus 32%, 95% CI of true difference = 28.7%–65.3%) and ED visits (42% versus 12%, 95% CI of true difference = 9.1%–50.9%) were more often breast cancer related during primary treatment compared to following treatment. Following treatment, EBC related hospitalizations were most often for disease progression (42%) and EBC related ED visits were most often for post-systemic therapy complications (43%). Significant predictors for EBC related hospitalizations in the two years following treatment included stage III disease (relative risk [RR] = 8.77, 95% CI = 2.50–30.82), having underwent mastectomy (RR = 12.51, 95% CI = 2.91–53.78), and having received chemotherapy (RR = 3.95, 95% CI = 1.18–13.23). However, chemotherapy does not appear to be a significant predictor for hospitalization when controlling for stage III disease (RR = 2.22, 95% CI = 0.61–8.05), whereas stage III disease remains a significant risk factor when controlling for chemotherapy (RR = 6.09, 95% CI = 1.58–23.52).


      Our findings suggests that stage III disease, undergoing mastectomy, and chemotherapy treatment predict higher likelihood of EBC related hospitalization following primary treatment in older EBC patients, with stage III disease likely the strongest risk factor.


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