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  • Author: Jessica R. Hoag x
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Scott F. Huntington, Jessica R. Hoag, Rong Wang, Amer M. Zeidan, Smith Giri, Steven D. Gore, Xiaomei Ma, Cary P. Gross and Amy J. Davidoff

Background: Provider experience, or clinical volume, is associated with improved outcomes in many complex healthcare settings. Despite increased complexity of anticancer therapies, studies evaluating physician-level experience and cancer treatment outcomes are lacking. Methods: A population-based study was conducted of older adults (aged ≥66 years) diagnosed with B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2004 through 2011 using SEER-Medicare data. Analysis focused on outcomes in patients receiving rituximab, the first approved monoclonal anticancer immunotherapy. We hypothesized that lower physician experience using rituximab and managing its infusion-related reactions would be associated with early treatment discontinuation. A 12-month look-back from each initiation of rituximab was used to categorize physician volume (0, 1–2, or ≥3 initiations per year). Modified Poisson regression was used to account for provider-level correlation and estimated relative risk (RR) of early rituximab discontinuation (<3 cycles within 180 days of rituximab initiation). Cox proportional hazards were used to measure the impact of rituximab discontinuation on survival. Results: Among 15,110 patients who initiated rituximab with 2,684 physicians, 7.6% experienced early rituximab discontinuation. Approximately one-fourth of patients (26.1%) initiated rituximab with a physician who had no rituximab initiations during the preceding 12 months. Compared with patients treated by physicians who had ≥3 rituximab initiations in the prior year, those treated by physicians without initiations were 57% more likely to experience early discontinuation (adjusted RR [aRR], 1.57; 95% CI, 1.35–1.82; P<.001 for 0 vs ≥3, and aRR, 1.19; 95% CI, 1.03–1.37; P=.02 for 1–2 vs ≥3). Additionally, rituximab discontinuation was associated with higher risk of death (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.39; 95% CI, 1.28–1.52; P<.001). Conclusions: Lower oncologist experience with rituximab was associated with increased risk of early rituximab discontinuation in Medicare beneficiaries with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Physician-level volume may be an important factor in providing high-quality cancer care in the modern era.