Background: Understanding the sources of variation in the use of high-cost technologies is important for developing effective strategies to control costs of care. Palliative radiation therapy (RT) is a discretionary treatment and its use may vary based on patient and clinician factors. Methods: Using data from the SEER-Medicare linked database, we identified patients diagnosed with metastatic lung, prostate, breast, and colorectal cancers in 2010 through 2015 who received RT, and the radiation oncologists who treated them. The costs of radiation services for each patient over a 90-day episode were calculated, and radiation oncologists were assigned to cost quintiles. The use of advanced technologies (eg, intensity-modulated radiation, stereotactic RT) and the number of RT treatments (eg, any site, bone only) were identified. Multivariable random-effects models were constructed to estimate the proportion of variation in the use of advanced technologies and extended fractionation (>10 fractions) that could be explained by patient fixed effects versus physician random effects. Results: We identified 37,361 patients with metastatic lung cancer, 3,684 with metastatic breast cancer, 5,323 with metastatic prostate cancer, and 8,726 with metastatic colorectal cancer, with 34%, 27%, 22%, and 9% receiving RT within the first year, respectively. The use of advanced technologies and extended fractionation was associated with higher costs of care. Compared with the patient case-mix, physician variation accounted for a larger proportion of the variation in the use of advanced technologies for palliative RT and the use of extended fractionation. Conclusions: Differences in radiation oncologists’ practice and choices, rather than differences in patient case-mix, accounted for a greater proportion of the variation in the use of advanced technologies and high-cost radiation services.
Variation in Use of High-Cost Technologies for Palliative Radiation Therapy by Radiation Oncologists
Aileen B. Chen, Jiangong Niu, Angel M. Cronin, Ya-Chen Tina Shih, Sharon Giordano, and Deborah Schrag
Overuse of Diagnostic Brain Imaging Among Patients With Stage IA Non–Small Cell Lung Cancer
Michael G. Milligan, Angel M. Cronin, Yolonda Colson, Kenneth Kehl, Debra N. Yeboa, Deborah Schrag, and Aileen B. Chen
Background: Among patients diagnosed with stage IA non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), the incidence of occult brain metastasis is low, and several professional societies recommend against brain imaging for staging purposes. The goal of this study was to characterize the use of brain imaging among Medicare patients diagnosed with stage IA NSCLC. Methods: Using data from linked SEER-Medicare claims, we identified patients diagnosed with AJCC 8th edition stage IA NSCLC in 2004 through 2013. Patients were classified as having received brain imaging if they underwent head CT or brain MRI from 1 month before to 3 months after diagnosis. We identified factors associated with receipt of brain imaging using multivariable logistic regression. Results: Among 13,809 patients with stage IA NSCLC, 3,417 (25%) underwent brain imaging at time of diagnosis. The rate of brain imaging increased over time, from 23.5% in 2004 to 28.7% in 2013 (P=.0006). There was significant variation in the use of brain imaging across hospital service areas, with rates ranging from 0% to 64.0%. Factors associated with a greater likelihood of brain imaging included older age (odds ratios [ORs] of 1.16 for 70–74 years, 1.13 for 75–79 years, 1.31 for 80–84 years, and 1.46 for ≥85 years compared with 65–69 years; all P<.05), female sex (OR, 1.09; P<.05), black race (OR 1.23; P<.05), larger tumor size (ORs of 1.23 for 11–20 mm and 1.28 for 21–30 mm tumors vs 1–10 mm tumors; all P<.05), and higher modified Charlson-Deyo comorbidity score (OR, 1.28 for score >1 vs score of 0; P<.05). Conclusions: Roughly 1 in 4 patients with stage IA NSCLC received brain imaging at the time of diagnosis despite national recommendations against the practice. Although several patient factors are associated with receipt of brain imaging, there is significant geographic variation across the United States. Closer adherence to clinical guidelines is likely to result in more cost-effective care.
Concordance with NCCN Colorectal Cancer Guidelines and ASCO/NCCN Quality Measures: An NCCN Institutional Analysis
Dorothy Romanus, Martin R. Weiser, John M. Skibber, Anna Ter Veer, Joyce C. Niland, John L. Wilson, Ashwani Rajput, Yu-Ning Wong, Al B. Benson III, Stephen Shibata, and Deborah Schrag
The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Outcomes Database was created to assess concordance to evidence- and consensus-based guidelines and to measure adherence to quality measures on an ongoing basis. The Colorectal Cancer Database began in 2005 as a collaboration among 8 NCCN centers.
Newly diagnosed colon and rectal cancer patients presenting to 1 of 8 NCCN centers between September 1, 2005, and May 21, 2008, were eligible for analysis of concordance with NCCN treatment guidelines for colorectal cancer and with a set of quality metrics jointly developed by ASCO and NCCN in 2007. Adherence rates were determined for each metric. Center-specific rates were benchmarked against mean concordance rates for all participating centers.
A total of 3443 patients were evaluable. Mean concordance rates with NCCN colorectal cancer guidelines and ASCO/NCCN quality measures were generally high (≥ 90%). However, relatively low mean concordance rates were noted for adjuvant chemotherapy treatment recommendations within 9 months of diagnosis of stage II to III rectal cancer (81%), and neoadjuvant chemoradiation in clinical T4 rectal primaries (83%). These low rates of concordance seemed to be consistent across centers.
Adherence to guidelines and quality measures is generally high at institutions participating in the NCCN colorectal cancer database. Lack of documentation, patient refusal, delayed treatment initiation, and lack of consensus about whether treatment was essential were the primary reasons for nonconcordance. Measurement of concordance and the reasons for nonconcordance enable participating centers to understand and improve their care delivery systems.
Neoadjuvant Therapy for Rectal Cancer Affects Lymph Node Yield and Status Without Clear Implications on Outcome: The Case for Eliminating a Metric and Using Preoperative Staging to Guide Therapy
Sherif R. Z. Abdel-Misih, Lai Wei, Al B. Benson III, Steven Cohen, Lily Lai, John Skibber, Neal Wilkinson, Martin Weiser, Deborah Schrag, and Tanios Bekaii-Saab
Background: Nodal status has long been considered pivotal to oncologic care, staging, and management. This has resulted in the establishment of rudimentary metrics regarding adequate lymph node yield in colon and rectal cancers for accurate cancer staging. In the era of neoadjuvant treatment, the implications of lymph node yield and status on patient outcomes remains unclear. Patient and Methods: This study included 1,680 patients with locally advanced rectal cancer from the NCCN prospective oncology database stratified into 3 groups based on preoperative therapy received: no neoadjuvant therapy, neoadjuvant chemoradiation, and neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Clinicopathologic characteristics and survival were compared between the groups, with univariate and multivariate analyses undertaken. Results: The clinicopathologic characteristics demonstrated statistically significant differences and heterogeneity among the 3 groups. The neoadjuvant chemoradiation group demonstrated the statistically lowest median lymph node yield (n=15) compared with 17 and 18 for no-neoadjuvant and neoadjuvant chemotherapy, respectively (P<.0001). Neoadjuvant treatment did impact survival, with chemoradiation demonstrating increased median overall survival of 42.7 compared with 37.3 and 26.6 months for neoadjuvant chemotherapy and no-neoadjuvant therapy, respectively (P<.0001). Patients with a yield of fewer than 12 lymph nodes had improved median overall survival of 43.3 months compared with 36.6 months in patients with 12 or more lymph nodes (P=.009). Multivariate analysis demonstrated that neither node yield nor status were predictors for overall survival. Discussion: This analysis reiterates that nodal yield in rectal cancer is multifactorial, with neoadjuvant therapy being a significant factor. Node yield and status were not significant predictors of overall survival. A nodal metric may not be clinically relevant in the era of neoadjuvant therapy, and guidelines for perioperative therapy may need reconsideration.
Systemic Therapy for Advanced Appendiceal Adenocarcinoma: An Analysis From the NCCN Oncology Outcomes Database for Colorectal Cancer
Mohamedtaki A. Tejani, Anna ter Veer, Dana Milne, Rebecca Ottesen, Tanios Bekaii-Saab, Al B. Benson III, Deborah Schrag, Stephen Shibata, John Skibber, Martin Weiser, Neal Wilkinson, and Steven J. Cohen
Appendiceal malignancies are rare and represent 1% of intestinal tumors in the United States. The role and efficacy of modern systemic therapy in advanced appendiceal adenocarcinoma has not been established. This study analyzed patients with recurrent or metastatic appendiceal adenocarcinoma in the database for Colorectal Cancer (CRC; 2005-2012). This database tracks longitudinal care for patients treated at 8 specialty centers across the Unites States. Study objectives were to describe and evaluate the efficacy of systemic therapy and investigate relationships with clinicopathologic features. Cox regression analysis was performed to identify predictors of progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS). Of 248 patients with advanced appendiceal carcinoma, 112 (45%) received systemic therapy for measurable disease and are the focus of this report. The most common chemotherapy regimens included FOLFOX with or without bevacizumab (n=39 and n=37, respectively), FOLFIRI (n=15), and single-agent fluoro-pyrimidine (n=10). Among 99 patients evaluable for best response, 39 experienced a response (response rate [RR], 39%) and 36 (36%) had stable disease. The median PFS was 1.2 years (95% CI, 1.0-1.8) and median OS was 2.1 years (95% CI, 1.6-2.3). Patients with non-mucinous histology or high-grade tumors and those who underwent nondebulking surgery had worse PFS and OS. Treatment of advanced appendiceal adenocarcinoma at NCCN Member Institutions commonly incorporates agents used for CRC. RR, PFS, and OS are comparable to those achieved in the treatment of metastatic CRC. Poor prognostic factors include nonmucinous histology or high-grade tumors and history of nondebulking surgery.
Neoadjuvant Radiotherapy Use in Locally Advanced Rectal Cancer at NCCN Member Institutions
Marsha Reyngold, Joyce Niland, Anna ter Veer, Dana Milne, Tanios Bekaii-Saab, Steven J. Cohen, Lily Lai, Deborah Schrag, John M. Skibber, William Small Jr, Martin Weiser, Neal Wilkinson, and Karyn A. Goodman
Based on randomized data, neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy has been incorporated into the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines) for stage II-III rectal cancer. Factors associated with nonadherence to evidence-based guidelines for neoadjuvant radiotherapy (RT) were examined at dedicated cancer centers. The prospective NCCN Oncology Outcomes Database for Colorectal Cancers was queried for patients with stage II-III rectal cancer who underwent a transabdominal surgical resection between September 2005 and June 2012. Multivariable logistic regression was used to identify factors associated with omission of RT. Among 1199 identified patients, 1119 (93%) received neoadjuvant RT, 51 (4%) did not receive RT, and 29 (2%) received adjuvant RT. Among 51 patients not receiving RT, only 19 (37%) were referred and evaluated by a radiation oncologist. On multivariable analysis, clinical factors associated with not receiving RT included a history of prior pelvic RT (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 23.9; P=.0003), ECOG performance status of 2 or greater (aOR, 11.1; P=.01), tumor distance from the anal verge greater than 10 cm (aOR, 5.4; P=.009), age at diagnosis of 75 years or older (aOR, 4.43; P=.002), body mass index of 25 to 30 kg/m2 and less than 25 kg/m2 (aOR, 5.22 and 4.23, respectively; P=.03), and clinical stage II (aOR, 2.27; P=.02). No significant change was seen in RT use according to diagnosis year, nor was any correlation seen with distance to the nearest RT facility. Concordance with NCCN Guidelines for neoadjuvant RT is high among NCCN Member Institutions. After adjusting for clinical characteristics that increase the risk for RT toxicity, including history of pelvic RT and high comorbidity burden/low functional status, the authors found that non-obese patients of advanced age or those with more favorable clinical features were more likely to not receive RT.
Treating Second Breast Events After Breast-Conserving Surgery for Ductal Carcinoma in Situ
Michael J. Hassett, Wei Jiang, Melissa E. Hughes, Stephen Edge, Sara H. Javid, Joyce C. Niland, Richard Theriault, Yu-Ning Wong, Deborah Schrag, and Rinaa S. Punglia
Background: Because of screening mammography, the number of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) survivors has increased dramatically. DCIS survivors may face excess risk of second breast events (SBEs). However, little is known about SBE treatment or its relationship to initial DCIS care. Methods: Among a prospective cohort of women who underwent breast-conserving surgery (BCS) for DCIS from 1997 to 2008 at institutions participating in the NCCN Outcomes Database, we identified SBEs, described patterns of care for SBEs, and examined the association between DCIS treatment choice and SBE care. Using multivariable regression, we identified features associated with use of mastectomy, radiation therapy (RT), or antiestrogen therapy (AET) for SBEs. Results: Of 2,939 women who underwent BCS for DCIS, 83% received RT and 40% received AET. During the median follow-up of 4.2 years, 200 women (6.8%) developed an SBE (55% ipsilateral, 45% invasive). SBEs occurred in 6% of women who underwent RT for their initial DCIS versus 11% who did not. Local treatment for these events included BCS (10%), BCS/RT (30%), mastectomy (53%), or none (6%); only 28% of patients received AET. Independent predictors of RT or mastectomy for SBEs included younger age, shorter time to SBE diagnosis, and RT or AET for the initial DCIS. Conclusions: A sizable proportion of patients with SBEs were treated with mastectomy, most especially those who previously received RT for their initial DCIS and those who developed an ipsilateral SBE. Despite the occurrence of an SBE, relatively few patients received AET. Future studies should investigate optimal treatment approaches for SBEs, including the benefit of mastectomy versus lumpectomy for an ipsilateral SBE and the benefit of AET for a hormone-receptor–positive SBE contingent on AET use for the initial DCIS diagnosis.