Variation in chemotherapy prescribing rates and mortality in early breast cancer over two decades: a national data linkage study

Gray, E., Figueroa, J.D., Oikonomidou, O., MacPherson, I. , Urquhart, G., Cameron, D.A. and Hall, P.S. (2021) Variation in chemotherapy prescribing rates and mortality in early breast cancer over two decades: a national data linkage study. ESMO Open, 6(6), 100331. (doi: 10.1016/j.esmoop.2021.100331) (PMID:34864502) (PMCID:PMC8649669)

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Background: Regional variation in clinical practice may identify differences in care, reveal inequity in access, and explain inequality in outcomes. The study aim was to measure geographical variation in Scotland for adjuvant chemotherapy use and mortality in early-stage breast cancer. Patients and methods: In this retrospective cohort study using population cancer registry-based data linkage, patients with surgically treated early breast cancer between 2001 and 2018 were identified from the Scottish Cancer Registry. Geographical regions considered were based on NHS Scotland organisational structure including 14 territorial Health Boards as well as three regional Cancer Networks. Regional variation in the proportion receiving chemotherapy, breast cancer mortality and all-cause mortality was investigated. Inter-regional comparisons of chemotherapy use were adjusted for differences in case mix using logistic regression. Comparison of breast cancer-specific mortality and all-cause mortality used regression with a parametric survival model. Time trends were assessed using moving average plots. Results: Chemotherapy use ranged from 35% to 46% of patients across Health Boards without adjustment. Variation reduced between 2001 and 2018. Following adjustment for clinical case mix, variation between cancer networks was within 3 percentage points, but up to 10 percentage points from the national average in some Health Boards. Differences in breast cancer mortality and all-cause mortality between cancer networks were modest, with hazard ratios of between 0.933 (95% confidence interval 0.893-0.975) and 1.041 (1.002-1.082) compared with the national average. Survival improved over the time period studied. Conclusion: With adequate case mix adjustment, variation in adjuvant chemotherapy use for early breast cancer in Scotland is small, with a trend towards greater convergence in practice and improved mortality outcomes in more recent cohorts. This suggests very limited regional inequity in access and convergence of clinical practice towards risk-stratified treatment recommendations. Outliers require assessment to understand the reasons for variance.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This work was supported by the Scottish Chief Scientist’s Office (Ref: 16-26) and the Charon Fund (no grant number).
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:MacPherson, Professor Iain
Authors: Gray, E., Figueroa, J.D., Oikonomidou, O., MacPherson, I., Urquhart, G., Cameron, D.A., and Hall, P.S.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Cancer Sciences
Journal Name:ESMO Open
ISSN (Online):2059-7029
Published Online:02 December 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 The Authors
First Published:First published in ESMO Open 6(6):100331
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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