Primary androgen-deprivation therapy (PADT) is often used to treat clinically localized prostate cancer, but its effects on cause-specific and overall mortality have not been established. Given the widespread use of PADT and the potential risks of serious adverse effects, accurate mortality data are needed to inform treatment decisions.
We conducted a retrospective cohort study using comprehensive utilization and cancer registry data from three integrated health plans. All men were newly diagnosed with clinically localized prostate cancer. Men who were diagnosed between 1995 and 2008, were not treated with curative intent therapy, and received follow-up through December 2010 were included in the study (n = 15,170). We examined all-cause and prostate cancer-specific mortality as our main outcomes. We used Cox proportional hazards models with and without propensity score analysis.
Overall, PADT was associated with neither a risk of all-cause mortality (hazard ratio [HR], 1.04; 95% CI, 0.97 to 1.11) nor prostate-cancer–specific mortality (HR, 1.03; 95% CI, 0.89 to 1.19) after adjusting for all sociodemographic and clinical characteristics. PADT was associated with decreased risk of all-cause mortality but not prostate-cancer–specific mortality. PADT was associated with decreased risk of all-cause mortality only among the subgroup of men with a high risk of cancer progression (HR, 0.88; 95% CI, 0.78 to 0.97).
We found no mortality benefit from PADT compared with no PADT for most men with clinically localized prostate cancer who did not receive curative intent therapy. Men with higher-risk disease may derive a small clinical benefit from PADT. Our study provides the best available contemporary evidence on the lack of survival benefit from PADT for most men with clinically localized prostate cancer.
Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) is a technically demanding prostate cancer treatment that may be less expensive than intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). Because SBRT may deliver a greater biologic dose of radiation than IMRT, toxicity could be increased. Studies comparing treatment cost to the Medicare program and toxicity are needed.
We performed a retrospective study by using a national sample of Medicare beneficiaries age ≥ 66 years who received SBRT or IMRT as primary treatment for prostate cancer from 2008 to 2011. Each SBRT patient was matched to two IMRT patients with similar follow-up (6, 12, or 24 months). We calculated the cost of radiation therapy treatment to the Medicare program and toxicity as measured by Medicare claims; we used a random effects model to compare genitourinary (GU), GI, and other toxicity between matched patients.
The study sample consisted of 1,335 SBRT patients matched to 2,670 IMRT patients. The mean treatment cost was $13,645 for SBRT versus $21,023 for IMRT. In the 6 months after treatment initiation, 15.6% of SBRT versus 12.6% of IMRT patients experienced GU toxicity (odds ratio [OR], 1.29; 95% CI, 1.05 to 1.53; P = .009). At 24 months after treatment initiation, 43.9% of SBRT versus 36.3% of IMRT patients had GU toxicity (OR, 1.38; 95% CI, 1.12 to 1.63; P = .001). The increase in GU toxicity was due to claims indicative of urethritis, urinary incontinence, and/or obstruction.
Although SBRT was associated with lower treatment costs, there appears to be a greater rate of GU toxicity for patients undergoing SBRT compared with IMRT, and prospective correlation with randomized trials is needed.
To investigate non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) survivors' willingness to discuss health-related quality-of-life (HRQOL) problems with their follow-up care physician.
Patients and Methods
Willingness to discuss HRQOL problems (physical, daily, emotional, social, and sexual functioning) was examined among 374 NHL survivors, 2 to 5 years postdiagnosis. Survivors were asked if they would bring up HRQOL problems with their physician and indicate reasons why not. Logistic regression models examined the association of patient sociodemographics, clinical characteristics, follow-up care variables, and current HRQOL scores with willingness to discuss HRQOL problems.
Overall, 94%, 82%, 76%, 43%, and 49% of survivors would initiate discussions of physical, daily, emotional, social, and sexual functioning, respectively. Survivors who indicated their physician “always” spent enough time with them or rated their care as “excellent” were more willing to discuss HRQOL problems (P < .05). Survivors reporting poorer physical health were less willing to discuss their daily functioning problems (P < .001). Men were more willing to discuss sexual problems than women (P < .001). One in three survivors cited “nothing can be done” as a reason for not discussing daily functioning problems, and at least one in four cited “this was not their doctor's job” and a preference to “talk to another clinician” as reasons for not discussing emotional, social, and sexual functioning.
NHL survivors' willingness to raise HRQOL problems with their physician varied by HRQOL domain. For some domains, even when survivors were experiencing problems, they may not discuss them. To deliver cancer care for the whole patient, interventions that facilitate survivor-clinician communication about survivors' HRQOL are needed.
The cost of cancer care continues to increase at an unprecedented rate. Concerns have been raised about financial incentives associated with the chemotherapy concession in oncology practices and their impact on treatment recommendations.
The objective of this study was to measure the physician-reported effects of prescribing chemotherapy or growth factors or making referrals to other cancer specialists, hospice, or hospital admissions on medical oncologists' income. US medical oncologists involved in the care of a population-based cohort of patients with lung or colorectal cancer from the Cancer Care Outcomes Research and Surveillance (CanCORS) study were surveyed regarding their perceptions of the impact of prescribing practices or referrals on their income.
Although most oncologists reported that their incomes would be unaffected, compared with salaried oncologists, physicians in fee-for-service practice, and those paid a salary with productivity incentives were more likely to report that their income would increase from administering chemotherapy (odds ratios [ORs], 7.05 and 7.52, respectively; both P < .001) or administering growth factors (ORs, 5.60 and 6.03, respectively; both P < .001).
A substantial proportion of oncologists who are not paid a fixed salary report that their incomes increase when they administer chemotherapy and growth factors. Further research is needed to understand the impact of these financial incentives on both the quality and cost of care.
Myeloid colony-stimulating factors (CSFs) decrease the risk of febrile neutropenia (FN) from high-risk chemotherapy regimens administered to patients at 20% or greater risk of FN, but little is known about their use in clinical practice. We evaluated CSF use in a multiregional population-based cohort of lung and colorectal cancer patients (N = 1849). Only 17% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 8% to 26%) patients treated with high-risk chemotherapy regimens received CSFs, compared with 18% (95% CI = 16% to 20%) and 10% (95% CI = 8% to 12%) of patients treated with intermediate- (10%–20% risk of FN) and low-risk (<10% risk of FN) chemotherapy regimens, respectively. Using a generalized estimating equation model, we found that enrollment in a health maintenance organization (HMO) was strongly associated with a lower adjusted odds of discretionary CSF use, compared with non-HMO patients (odds ratio = 0.44, 95% CI = 0.32 to 0.60, P < .001). All statistical tests were two-sided. Overall, 96% (95% CI = 93% to 98%) of CSFs were administered in scenarios where CSF therapy is not recommended by evidence-based guidelines. This finding suggests that policies to decrease CSF use in patients at lower or intermediate risk of FN may yield substantial cost savings without compromising patient outcomes.
The number of electronic patient-reported outcome (PRO) systems has increased; systems can be programmed to have numerous features that facilitate PRO assessment integration and routine monitoring in clinical care.
The use of electronic patient-reported outcomes (PRO) systems is increasing in cancer clinical care settings. This review comprehensively identifies existing PRO systems and explores how systems differ in the administration of PRO assessments, the integration of information into the clinic workflow and electronic health record (EHR) systems, and the reporting of PRO information.
Electronic PRO (e-PRO) systems were identified through a semistructured review of published studies, gray literature, and expert identification. System developers were contacted to provide detailed e-PRO system characteristics and clinical implementation information using a structured review form.
A total of 33 unique systems implemented in cancer clinical practice were identified. Of these, 81% provided detailed information about system characteristics. Two system classifications were established: treatment-centered systems designed for patient monitoring during active cancer treatment (n = 8) and patient-centered systems following patients across treatment and survivorship periods (n = 19). There was little consensus on administration, integration, or result reporting between these system types. Patient-centered systems were more likely to provide user-friendly features such as at-home assessments, integration into larger electronic system networks (eg, EHRs), and more robust score reporting options. Well-established systems were more likely to have features that increased assessment flexibility (eg, location, automated reminders) and better clinical integration.
The number of e-PRO systems has increased. Systems can be programmed to have numerous features that facilitate integration of PRO assessment and routine monitoring into clinical care. Important barriers to system usability and widespread adoption include assessment flexibility, clinical integration, and high-quality data collection and reporting.
To examine factors associated with the use of radiation therapy (RT) at the end of life in patients with breast, prostate, or colorectal cancer.
Using data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) – Medicare database, patients were over age 65 and diagnosed between January 1, 2004 and December 31, 2011 with any stage of cancer when the cause of death, as defined by SEER, was cancer; or with stage 4 cancer, who died of any cause. We employed multiple logistic regression models to identify patient and health systems factors associated with palliative radiation use.
50% of patients received RT in the last 6 months of life. RT was used less frequently in older patients and in non-Hispanic white patients. Similar patterns were observed in the last 14 days of life. Chemotherapy use in the last 6 months of life was strongly correlated with receiving RT in the last 6 months (OR 2.72, 95% CI: 2.59-2.88) and last 14 days of life (OR 1.55, 95% CI: 1.40-1.66). Patients receiving RT accrued more emergency department visits, radiographic exams and physician visits (all comparisons p < 0.0001).
Among patients with breast, colorectal, and prostate cancer, palliative RT use was common. End-of-life RT correlated with end-of-life chemotherapy use, including in the last 14 days of life, when treatment may cause increased treatment burden without improved quality of life. Research is needed optimize the role and timing of RT in palliative care.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13014-014-0305-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Palliative care; SEER-Medicare; Radiation therapy; Radiotherapy; Radiation oncology; End-of-life care
To compare the efficacy of intermittent androgen deprivation therapy (IADT) vs continuous androgen deprivation therapy (CADT) for the treatment of advanced prostate cancer; we performed a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs), assessing the risks of disease progression, all-cause, and disease-specific mortality.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
We conducted a systematic search of several bibliographic systems to identify all RCTs of IADT in men with newly diagnosed metastatic or biochemical only prostate cancer. We abstracted outcome data, study characteristics, and participant demographics. We performed heterogeneity tests and calculated the summarized risk differences (RD) and risk ratios at 95% confidence intervals (CI), using inverse variance methods in random-effects approaches.
We identified 8 RCTs (N = 4664) comparing mortality between IADT and CADT. For all men combined, we observed small but nonsignificant differences in all-cause mortality (RD = 0.02, 95% CI = −0.02, 0.06), disease-specific mortality (RD = 0.04, 95% CI = −0.01, 0.08), and disease progression (RD = −0.03, 95% CI = −0.09, 0.04). Among the prespecified subgroup with histologically confirmed, newly diagnosed metastatic disease, we found no difference in overall survival (RD = 0.00, 95% CI = −0.09, 0.09).
We found no difference in overall survival, but a small increased risk in disease-specific survival for men treated with IADT relative to CADT was observed. IADT could be considered as an alternative to CADT because of better quality of life outcome. Patients should be informed of the possible risks and benefits of both therapies. More research confirming the benefits of IADT vs CADT is needed to inform treatment decisions.
No randomized trials have compared survival outcomes for men with localized prostate cancer (PC) being treated with radical prostatectomy (RP) or external beam radiotherapy (EBRT). The goal of the study, therefore, was to estimate the association of RP (compared with EBRT) with overall and PC mortality.
We analyzed an observational cohort from the population-based Prostate Cancer Outcomes Study, which included men aged 55 to 74 years diagnosed with localized PC between October 1994 and October 1995 who underwent either RP (n = 1164) or EBRT (n = 491) within 1 year of diagnosis. Patients were followed until death or study end (December 31, 2010). Overall and disease-specific mortality were assessed with multivariable survival analysis, with propensity scores to adjust for potential treatment selection confounders (demographics, comorbidities, and tumor characteristics). All statistical tests were two-sided.
After 15 years of follow-up, there were 568 deaths, including 104 from PC. RP was associated with statistically significant advantages for overall (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.60, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.53 to 0.70, P <.0001.) and disease-specific mortality (HR = 0.35, 95% CI = 0.26 to 0.49, P <.0001.). Mortality benefits for RP were also observed within treatment propensity quintiles, when subjects were pair-matched on propensity scores, and in subgroup analyses based on age, tumor characteristics, and comorbidity.
Population-based observational data on men diagnosed with localized PC in the mid-1990s suggest a mortality benefit associated with RP vs EBRT. Possible explanations include residual selection bias or a true survival advantage. Results might be less applicable for men facing treatment decisions today.
Overuse of surveillance testing for breast cancer survivors is an important problem but its extent and determinants are incompletely understood. The objectives of this study were to determine the extent to which physicians’ breast cancer surveillance testing beliefs are consistent with test overuse, and to identify factors associated with these beliefs.
2009–2010 cross-sectional survey of US medical oncologists and primary care physicians (PCPs). Physicians responded to a clinical vignette ascertaining beliefs about appropriate breast cancer surveillance testing. Multivariable analyses examined the extent to which test beliefs were consistent with overuse and associated with physician and practice characteristics and physician perceptions, attitudes, and practices.
1098 medical oncologists and 980 PCPs completed the survey (response rate 57.5%). Eighty-four percent of PCPs (95% CI: 81.4%–86.5%) and 72% of oncologists (95% CI: 69.8%– 74.7%) reported beliefs consistent with blood test overuse, while 50% of PCPs (95% CI: 47.3%– 53.8%) and 27% of oncologists (95% CI: 23.9%–29.3%) reported beliefs consistent with imaging test overuse. Among PCPs, factors associated with these beliefs included smaller practice size, lower patient volume, and practice ownership. Among oncologists, factors included older age, international medical graduate status, lower self-efficacy (confidence in knowledge), and greater perceptions of ambiguity (conflicting expert recommendations) regarding survivorship care.
Beliefs consistent with breast cancer surveillance test overuse are common, greater for PCPs and blood tests than for oncologists and imaging tests, and associated with practice characteristics and perceived self-efficacy and ambiguity about testing. These results suggest modifiable targets for efforts to reduce surveillance test overuse.
Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL) is the fifth most common cancer among men and women. Patients with aggressive NHL receive intense medical treatments that can significantly compromise health-related quality of life (HRQOL). However, knowledge of HRQOL and its correlates among aggressive NHL survivors is limited.
Self-reported data on HRQOL (physical and mental function, anxiety, depression, and fatigue) were analyzed for 319 survivors of aggressive NHL. Survivors, 2–5 years after diagnosis, were selected from the Los Angeles County Cancer Registry. Bivariate and multivariable methods were used to assess the influence of sociodemographic, clinical, and cognitive health appraisal factors on survivors’ HRQOL.
After accounting for other covariates, marital status was associated with all HRQOL outcomes (p<0.05). Younger survivors reported worse mental function and higher levels of depression, anxiety, and fatigue (p<0.01). Survivors who had more comorbid conditions or lacked private health insurance reported worse physical and mental function and higher levels of depression and fatigue (p<0.05). Survivors who experienced a recurrence reported worse physical function and higher levels of depression and fatigue (p<0.05). With the exception of a nonsignificant association between perceived control and physical function, greater perceptions of personal control and health competence were significantly associated with more positive HRQOL outcomes (p<0.01).
Survivors of aggressive NHL who are younger, are non-married, lack private insurance, or experience greater illness burden may be at risk for poorer HRQOL. Cognitive health appraisal factors were strongly related to HRQOL, suggesting potential benefits of interventions focused on these mutable factors for this population.
Proton radiotherapy (PRT) is an emerging treatment for prostate cancer despite limited knowledge of clinical benefit or potential harms compared with other types of radiotherapy. We therefore compared patterns of PRT use, cost, and early toxicity among Medicare beneficiaries with prostate cancer with those of intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT).
We performed a retrospective study of all Medicare beneficiaries aged greater than or equal to 66 years who received PRT or IMRT for prostate cancer during 2008 and/or 2009. We used multivariable logistic regression to identify factors associated with receipt of PRT. To assess toxicity, each PRT patient was matched with two IMRT patients with similar clinical and sociodemographic characteristics. The main outcome measures were receipt of PRT or IMRT, Medicare reimbursement for each treatment, and early genitourinary, gastrointestinal, and other toxicity. All statistical tests were two-sided.
We identified 27,647 men; 553 (2%) received PRT and 27,094 (98%) received IMRT. Patients receiving PRT were younger, healthier, and from more affluent areas than patients receiving IMRT. Median Medicare reimbursement was $32,428 for PRT and $18,575 for IMRT. Although PRT was associated with a statistically significant reduction in genitourinary toxicity at 6 months compared with IMRT (5.9% vs 9.5%; odds ratio [OR] = 0.60, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.38 to 0.96, P = .03), at 12 months post-treatment there was no difference in genitourinary toxicity (18.8% vs 17.5%; OR = 1.08, 95% CI = 0.76 to 1.54, P = .66). There was no statistically significant difference in gastrointestinal or other toxicity at 6 months or 12 months post-treatment.
Although PRT is substantially more costly than IMRT, there was no difference in toxicity in a comprehensive cohort of Medicare beneficiaries with prostate cancer at 12 months post-treatment.
In metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC), mutations in the KRAS gene predict poor response to epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitors. Clinical treatment guidelines now recommend KRAS testing if EGFR inhibitors are considered. Our study investigates the clinical uptake and utilization of KRAS testing.
We included 1,188 patients with mCRC diagnosed from 2004 to 2009, from seven integrated health care delivery systems with a combined membership of 5.5 million. We used electronic medical records and targeted manual chart review to capture the complexity and breadth of real-world clinical oncology care.
Overall, 428 patients (36%) received KRAS testing during their clinical care, and 266 (22%) were treated with EGFR inhibitors. Age at diagnosis (p=0.0034), comorbid conditions (p=0.0316), and survival time from diagnosis (p<0.0001) influence KRAS testing and EGFR inhibitor prescribing. The proportion who received KRAS testing increased from 7% to 97% for those treated in 2006 and 2010, respectively, and 83% of all treated patients had a KRAS wild type genotype. Most patients with a KRAS mutation (86%) were not treated with EGFR inhibitors. The interval between mCRC diagnosis and receipt of KRAS testing decreased from 26 months (2006) to 10 months (2009).
These findings demonstrate rapid uptake and incorporation of this predictive biomarker into clinical oncology care.
In this delivery setting, KRAS testing is widely used to guide treatment decisions with EGFR inhibitors in patients with mCRC. An important future research goal is to evaluate utilization of KRAS testing in other delivery settings in the US.
biomarker; utilization; colorectal neoplasms; managed care programs
Few studies have measured the longitudinal change in health-related quality of life (HRQOL) of prostate cancer patients starting prior to cancer diagnosis, or provide simultaneous comparisons with a matched non-cancer cohort. Our study addresses these gaps by providing unique estimates of the effects of a cancer diagnosis on HRQOL accounting for the confounding effects of ageing and comorbidity.
The Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results registry data were linked with the Medicare Health Outcomes Survey (MHOS) data. Eligible patients (n=445) were Medicare beneficiaries, aged 65 years and older, from 1998–2003 whose first prostate cancer diagnosis occurred between their baseline and follow-up MHOS. Using propensity score matching, we identified 2225 participants without cancer in the MHOS. Analysis of covariance models were used to estimate changes in HRQOL as assessed with the Short Form-36 and activities of daily living scale.
Before diagnosis, prostate cancer patients reported similar HRQOL to men without cancer. Following diagnosis, men with prostate cancer experienced significant decrements in physical, mental, and social aspects of their lives relative to controls, especially within the first 6 months from diagnosis. For men surveyed beyond one year after diagnosis, HRQOL was similar to controls. However, we observed an increased risk for major depressive disorder among men undergoing either conservative management or external beam radiation.
These findings illustrate the time-sensitive nature of decline in HRQOL after a cancer diagnosis and enhance our understanding of the impact of prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment on older men’ physical, mental, and social well-being.
Prostate Cancer; health-related quality of life; population-based; prospective; older Americans
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES
Information about primary care physicians’ (PCPs) and oncologists’ involvement in cancer-related follow-up care, and care coordination practices, is lacking but essential to improving cancer survivors’ care. This study assesses PCPs’ and oncologists’ self-reported roles in providing cancer-related follow-up care for survivors who are within five years of completing cancer treatment.
In 2009, the National Cancer Institute and American Cancer Society conducted a nationally-representative survey of PCPs (n=1014) and medical oncologists (n=1125) (response rate=57.6%; cooperation rate=65.1%). Mailed questionnaires obtained information on physicians’ roles in providing cancer-related follow-up care to early-stage breast and colon cancer survivors; personal and practice characteristics; beliefs about and preferences for follow-up care; and care coordination practices.
Over 50% of PCPs reported providing cancer-related follow-up care for survivors, mainly by co-managing with an oncologist. In contrast, over 70% of oncologists reported fulfilling these roles by providing the care themselves. In adjusted analyses, PCP co-management was associated with: specialty, training in late or long-term effects of cancer, higher cancer patient volume, favorable attitudes about PCP care involvement, preference for a shared model of survivorship care, and receipt of treatment summaries from oncologists. Among oncologists, only preference for a shared care model was associated with co-management with PCPs.
PCPs and oncologists differ in their involvement in cancer-related follow-up care of survivors, with co-management more often reported by PCPs than by oncologists. Given anticipated national shortages of PCPs and oncologists, study results suggest that improved communication and coordination between these providers is needed to ensure optimal delivery of follow-up care to cancer survivors.
neoplasms; survivorship; physicians; primary health care; physicians’ practice patterns
The purpose of this analysis was to compare long-term urinary, bowel, and sexual function after radical prostatectomy or external-beam radiation therapy.
The Prostate Cancer Outcomes Study (PCOS) enrolled 3533 men in whom prostate cancer had been diagnosed in 1994 or 1995. The current cohort comprised 1655 men in whom localized prostate cancer had been diagnosed between the ages of 55 and 74 years and who had undergone either surgery (1164 men) or radiotherapy (491 men). Functional status was assessed at baseline and at 2, 5, and 15 years after diagnosis. We used multivariable propensity scoring to compare functional outcomes according to treatment.
Patients undergoing prostatectomy were more likely to have urinary incontinence than were those undergoing radiotherapy at 2 years (odds ratio, 6.22; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.92 to 20.29) and 5 years (odds ratio, 5.10; 95% CI, 2.29 to 11.36). However, no significant between-group difference in the odds of urinary incontinence was noted at 15 years. Similarly, although patients undergoing prostatectomy were more likely to have erectile dysfunction at 2 years (odds ratio, 3.46; 95% CI, 1.93 to 6.17) and 5 years (odds ratio, 1.96; 95% CI, 1.05 to 3.63), no significant between-group difference was noted at 15 years. Patients undergoing prostatectomy were less likely to have bowel urgency at 2 years (odds ratio, 0.39; 95% CI, 0.22 to 0.68) and 5 years (odds ratio, 0.47; 95% CI, 0.26 to 0.84), again with no significant between-group difference in the odds of bowel urgency at 15 years.
At 15 years, no significant relative differences in disease-specific functional outcomes were observed among men undergoing prostatectomy or radiotherapy. Nonetheless, men treated for localized prostate cancer commonly had declines in all functional domains during 15 years of follow-up. (Funded by the National Cancer Institute.)
The growing number of cancer survivors combined with a looming shortage of oncology specialists will require greater coordination of post-treatment care responsibilities between oncologists and primary care physicians (PCPs). However, data are limited regarding these physicians’ views of cancer survivors’ care.
To compare PCPs and oncologists with regard to their knowledge, attitudes, and practices for follow-up care of breast and colon cancer survivors.
Design and Subjects
Mailed questionnaires were completed by a nationally representative sample of 1,072 PCPs and 1,130 medical oncologists in 2009 (cooperation rate = 65%). Sampling and non-response weights were used to calculate estimates to reflect practicing US PCPs and oncologists.
PCPs and oncologists reported their 1) preferred model for delivering cancer survivors’ care; 2) assessment of PCPs’ ability to perform follow-up care tasks; 3) confidence in their knowledge; and 4) cancer surveillance practices.
Compared with PCPs, oncologists were less likely to believe PCPs had the skills to conduct appropriate testing for breast cancer recurrence (59% vs. 23%, P < 0.001) or to care for late effects of breast cancer (75% vs. 38%, P < 0.001). Only 40% of PCPs were very confident of their own knowledge of testing for recurrence. PCPs were more likely than oncologists to endorse routine use of non-recommended blood and imaging tests for detecting cancer recurrence, with both groups departing substantially from guideline recommendations.
There are significant differences in PCPs’ and oncologists’ knowledge, attitudes, and practices with respect to care of cancer survivors. Improving cancer survivors’ care may require more effective communication between these two groups to increase PCPs’ confidence in their knowledge, and must also address oncologists’ attitudes regarding PCPs’ ability to care for cancer survivors.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11606-011-1808-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
cancer care; cancer survivorship; physician survey; physician attitudes
Limited data guide radiotherapy choices for patients with brain metastases. This survey aimed to identify patient, physician, and practice setting variables associated with reported preferences for different treatment techniques.
277 members of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (6% of surveyed physicians) completed a survey regarding treatment preferences for 21 hypothetical patients with brain metastases. Treatment choices included combinations of whole brain radiation therapy (WBRT), stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), and surgery. Vignettes varied histology, extracranial disease status, Karnofsky Performance Status (KPS), presence of neurologic deficits, lesion size and number. Multivariate generalized estimating equation regression models were used to estimate odds ratios.
For a hypothetical patient with 3 lesions or 8 lesions, 21% and 91% of physicians, respectively, chose WBRT alone, compared with 1% selecting WBRT alone for a patient with 1 lesion. 51% chose WBRT alone for a patient with active extracranial disease or KPS=50%. 40% chose SRS alone for an 80 year-old patient with 1 lesion, compared to 29% for a 55 year-old patient. Multivariate modeling detailed factors associated with SRS use, including availability of SRS within one’s practice (OR 2.22, 95% CI 1.46-3.37).
Poor prognostic factors, such as advanced age, poor performance status, or active extracranial disease, correspond with an increase in physicians’ reported preference for using WBRT. When controlling for clinical factors, equipment access was independently associated with choice of SRS. The large variability in preferences suggests that more information about the relative harms and benefits of these options is needed to guide decision-making.
Brain metastases; Stereotactic radiosurgery; Whole brain radiation therapy; Treatment patterns; Physician survey
We evaluated pathways linking physicians' decision-making style with cancer survivors' health-related quality of life (HRQOL)
We analyzed survey data from 623 survivors diagnosed with leukemia, colorectal, or bladder cancer in Northern California, 2–5 years prior to the study. Of these, 395 reported making a medical decision in the past 12 months and were asked about their physician's decision-making style. We evaluated the association of physician style with proximal communication outcomes (trust, participation self-efficacy), intermediate cognitive outcomes (perceived control, uncertainty), and distal health outcomes (physical and mental HRQOL).
Overall, 54% of survivors reported a sub-optimal decision-making style for their physician. With the exception of physical health, physician style was associated with all proximal, intermediate, and distal outcomes (p≤0.01). We identified two significant pathways by which a participatory physician style may be associated with survivors' mental health: 1) by increasing survivors' participation self-efficacy and thereby enhancing their perceptions of personal control (p<0.01); 2) by enhancing survivors' level of trust and thereby reducing their perceptions of uncertainty (p<0.05).
A participatory physician style may improve survivors' mental health by a complex two step mechanism of improving survivors' proximal communication and intermediate cognitive outcomes.
Physicians who adopt a participatory decision-making style are likely to facilitate patient empowerment and enhance patients' HRQOL.
patient-physician communication; participatory decision-making style; cancer survivorship; health-related quality of life; patient outcomes; mediation analysis
Clinical trials are critical for evaluating new cancer therapies, but few adult patients participate in them. Physicians have an important role in facilitating patient participation in clinical trials. We examined the characteristics of specialty physicians who participate in clinical trials by enrolling or referring patients, the types of trials in which they participate, and factors associated with physicians who report greater involvement in clinical trials.
We analyzed data from the Cancer Care Outcomes Research and Surveillance Consortium. The study included 1533 specialty physicians who cared for colorectal and lung cancer patients (496 medical oncologists, 228 radiation oncologists, and 809 surgeons) and completed a survey conducted during 2005–2006 (response rate = 61.0%). Descriptive statistics were used to characterize physicians’ personal and practice characteristics, and regression models were used to examine associations between these characteristics and physician participation in clinical trials. All statistical tests were two-sided.
A total of 87.8% of medical oncologists, 66.1% of radiation oncologists, and 35.0% of surgeons reported referring or enrolling one or more patients in clinical trials during the previous 12 months. The mean number of patients referred or enrolled by these physicians was 17.2 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 15.5 to 18.9) for medical oncologists, 9.5 (95% CI = 7.7 to 11.3) for radiation oncologists, and 12.2 (95% CI = 9.8 to 14.6) for surgeons (P < .001). Specialty type, involvement in teaching, and affiliation with a Community Clinical Oncology Program (CCOP) and/or a National Cancer Institute–designated cancer center were associated with physician trial participation and enrolling more patients (all Ps < .05). Two-thirds of physicians with a CCOP or National Cancer Institute–designated cancer center affiliation reported participating in trials.
Features of specialty physicians’ practice environments are associated with their trial participation, but many physicians at CCOPs and cancer centers do not participate.
Using observational data to assess the relative effectiveness of alternative cancer treatments is limited by patient selection into treatment, which often biases interpretation of outcomes. We evaluated methods for addressing confounding in treatment and survival of patients with early-stage prostate cancer in observational data and compared findings with those from a benchmark randomized clinical trial.
We selected 14 302 early-stage prostate cancer patients who were aged 66–74 years and had been treated with radical prostatectomy or conservative management from linked Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results–Medicare data from January 1, 1995, through December 31, 2003. Eligibility criteria were similar to those from a clinical trial used to benchmark our analyses. Survival was measured through December 31, 2007, by use of Cox proportional hazards models. We compared results from the benchmark trial with results from models with observational data by use of traditional multivariable survival analysis, propensity score adjustment, and instrumental variable analysis.
Prostate cancer patients receiving conservative management were more likely to be older, nonwhite, and single and to have more advanced disease than patients receiving radical prostatectomy. In a multivariable survival analysis, conservative management was associated with greater risk of prostate cancer–specific mortality (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.59, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.27 to 2.00) and all-cause mortality (HR = 1.47, 95% CI = 1.35 to 1.59) than radical prostatectomy. Propensity score adjustments resulted in similar patient characteristics across treatment groups, although survival results were similar to traditional multivariable survival analyses. Results for the same comparison from the instrumental variable approach, which theoretically equalizes both observed and unobserved patient characteristics across treatment groups, differed from the traditional multivariable and propensity score results but were consistent with findings from the subset of elderly patient with early-stage disease in the trial (ie, conservative management vs radical prostatectomy: for prostate cancer–specific mortality, HR = 0.73, 95% CI = 0.08 to 6.73; for all-cause mortality, HR = 1.09, 95% CI = 0.46 to 2.59).
Instrumental variable analysis may be a useful technique in comparative effectiveness studies of cancer treatments if an acceptable instrument can be identified.
Cancer is rare in adolescents and young adults (AYA), but these patients have seen little improvement in survival in contrast to most other age groups. Furthermore, participation in research by AYAs is typically low. We conducted a study to examine the feasibility of recruiting a population-based sample of AYA survivors to examine issues of treatment and health outcomes.
Individuals diagnosed in 2007–08 and age 15–39 at the time of diagnosis with acute lymphocytic leukemia, Hodgkin lymphoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, germ cell cancer or sarcoma were identified by 7 Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End-Results (SEER) cancer registries, mailed surveys within 14 months after diagnosis and again a year later, and had medical records reviewed.
525 (43%) of the eligible patients responded, 39% refused and 17% were lost to follow-up. Extensive efforts were required for most potential respondents (87%). 76% of respondents completed the paper rather than online survey version. In a multivariate model, age, cancer site, education and months from diagnosis to the first mailing of the survey were not associated with participation, although males (p < 0.01), Hispanics and non-Hispanic blacks (p < 0.001) were less likely to participate. 91% of survivors completing the initial survey completed the subsequent survey.
Despite the response rate, those who participated adequately reflected the population of AYA cancer survivors. The study demonstrates that cancer registries are valuable foundations for conducting observational, longitudinal population-based research on AYA cancer survivors.
Implications for Cancer Survivors
Achieving a reasonable response rate in this population is possible, but requires extensive resources.
Adolescent cancer; Young adult cancer; Survey; Response rates; Medical records; Consent forms
Recent advances in genomic research have demonstrated a substantial role for genomic factors in predicting response to cancer therapies. Researchers in the fields of cancer pharmacogenomics and pharmacoepidemiology seek to understand why individuals respond differently to drug therapy, in terms of both adverse effects and treatment efficacy. To identify research priorities as well as the resources and infrastructure needed to advance these fields, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) sponsored a workshop titled “Cancer Pharmacogenomics: Setting a Research Agenda to Accelerate Translation” on July 21, 2009, in Bethesda, MD. In this commentary, we summarize and discuss five science-based recommendations and four infrastructure-based recommendations that were identified as a result of discussions held during this workshop. Key recommendations include 1) supporting the routine collection of germline and tumor biospecimens in NCI-sponsored clinical trials and in some observational and population-based studies; 2) incorporating pharmacogenomic markers into clinical trials; 3) addressing the ethical, legal, social, and biospecimen- and data-sharing implications of pharmacogenomic and pharmacoepidemiologic research; and 4) establishing partnerships across NCI, with other federal agencies, and with industry. Together, these recommendations will facilitate the discovery and validation of clinical, sociodemographic, lifestyle, and genomic markers related to cancer treatment response and adverse events, and they will improve both the speed and efficiency by which new pharmacogenomic and pharmacoepidemiologic information is translated into clinical practice.
Men with local stage prostate cancer have access to a large number of information sources about therapy, including print and broadcast media, the Internet, books, and friends with the disease. The purpose of this evaluation is to determine the role that information sources play in the treatment decision process.
Prospective survey of men in three geographically separate regions with local stage prostate cancer. Most men were surveyed following diagnosis but prior to starting therapy.
On average, men consulted nearly five separate sources of information prior to treatment. The most common source of information was the patient’s physician (97%), followed by lay-literature (pamphlets, videos) (76%), other health professionals (71%), friends with prostate cancer (67%), and the Internet (58%). Most men rated the sources they consulted as helpful. Consulting the Internet was associated with considering more treatment options. Several information sources were significantly associated with considering particular treatments, but the magnitude of association was small in relation to patient age, comorbidity, and Gleason score. More than 70% of men stated they were considering or planning only one type of therapy.
Men with local stage prostate cancer consult a wide range of information sources. Non-physician information sources appear to influence their treatment considerations, but to a smaller degree than clinical factors.
prostate cancer; surgery; information sources; decision making