, Volume 117, Issue 2, pp 349-356
Date: 03 Dec 2008

Appropriateness of early breast cancer management in relation to patient and hospital characteristics: a population based study in Northern Italy

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Administrative data may provide valuable information for monitoring the quality of care at population level and offer an efficient way of gathering data on individual patterns of care, and also to shed light on inequalities in access to appropriate medical care. The aim of the study was to investigate the role of patient and hospital characteristics in the initial treatment of early breast cancer using administrative data. Incident breast cancer patients were identified from hospital discharge records and linked to the radiotherapy outpatient database during 2000–2004 in the Piedmont region of Northwestern Italy. Women treated with breast-conserving surgery followed by radiotherapy (BCS + RT) were compared to those treated with BCS without radiotherapy (BCS w/o RT) or mastectomy using multinomial logistic regression models. Out of 16,022 incident cases, 46.2% received BCS + RT, 20.3% received BCS w/o RT, and 33.5% received a mastectomy. Compared to BCS + RT, the factors associated with BCS w/o RT were: increased age (OR = 1.54; 95% CI = 1.29–1.85, for ages 70–79 vs. <50), being unmarried (1.24; 1.13–1.36), presence of co-morbidities (1.32; 1.10–1.58), being treated at hospitals with low surgical volume (1.31; 1.07–1.60 for hospitals with less than 50 vs. ≥150 interventions/year), and living far from radiotherapy facilities (1.75; 1.39–2.20 for those at a distance of >45 min). These same factors were also associated with mastectomy. During the 5-year period observed, there was a trend of reduced probability of receiving a mastectomy (0.70; 0.56–0.88 for 2004 vs. 2000). The presence or absence of nodal involvement was positively associated with mastectomy (2.28; 1.83–2.85) and negatively associated with BCS w/o RT (0.65; 0.56–0.76). After adjustment for potential confounders, education level did not show any association with the type of treatment. Social and geographical factors, in addition to hospital specialization, should be considered to reduce inappropriateness of care for breast cancer.