Background: The ACOSOG Z0011 (Z0011) trial concluded that sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) without completion axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) provides excellent regional control in women with T1-T2 sentinel lymph node (SLN) positive breast cancers receiving breast conservation therapy. We determined whether application of Z0011 guidelines would reduce costs. Methods: A retrospective chart review of patients with invasive breast cancer treated with lumpectomy and SLNB at our institution during 2009 was performed. We determined the number of overnight hospital admissions following ALND and estimated costs pertaining to the perioperative surgical management of the axilla patients actually received, and compared those to the estimated number of inpatient days and perioperative costs if Z0011 guidelines had been followed for eligible patients. The 2011 Medicare Fee Schedule was used to estimate costs for procedures, and costs for OR time were estimated using procedure length and cost of OR time per minute. Results: A total of 71 patients underwent lumpectomy with SLNB and had at least 1 positive SLN. Estimated costs related to perioperative surgical management of the axilla were $322,775, and there were 36 overnight admissions. Applying Z0011 criteria, 51 patients (72 %) would have been eligible to forego completion ALND. Estimated costs would have been $264,513 with 13 overnight admissions, translating into a cost savings of $58,262 and 23 fewer overnight admissions. Conclusion: Application of Z0011 guidelines resulted in cost savings, with a 64 % reduction in inpatient hospital days and an 18 % reduction in early perioperative costs.
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