Variation in adherence to external beam radiotherapy quality measures among elderly men with localized prostate cancer.

Department of Radiation Oncology, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY 10021, USA.
International Journal of Radiation OncologyBiologyPhysics (Impact Factor: 4.18). 01/2008; 69(5):1456-66. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2007.05.020
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT To characterize the variation in adherence to quality measures of external beam radiotherapy (EBRT) for localized prostate cancer and its relation to patient and provider characteristics in a population-based, representative sample of U.S. men.
We evaluated EBRT quality measures proposed by a RAND expert panel of physicians among men aged >or=65 years diagnosed between 2000 and 2002 with localized prostate cancer and treated with primary EBRT using data from the linked Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER)-Medicare program. We assessed the adherence to five EBRT quality measures that were amenable to analysis using SEER-Medicare data: (1) use of conformal RT planning; (2) use of high-energy (>10-MV) photons; (3) use of custom immobilization; (4) completion of two follow-up visits with a radiation oncologist in the year after therapy; and (5) radiation oncologist board certification.
Of the 11,674 patients, 85% had received conformal RT planning, 75% had received high-energy photons, and 97% had received custom immobilization. One-third of patients had completed two follow-up visits with a radiation oncologist, although 91% had at least one visit with a urologist or radiation oncologist. Most patients (85%) had been treated by a board-certified radiation oncologist.
The overall high adherence to EBRT quality measures masked substantial variation in geography, socioeconomic status in the area of residence, and teaching affiliation of the RT facility. Future research should examine the reasons for the variations in these measures and whether the variation is associated with important clinical outcomes.

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