Authors: Smith-Gagen J, Drake CM, White LL, Pinheiro PS
Title: Extent of diagnostic inquiry among a population-based cohort of patients with cancer of unknown primary.
Journal: Cancer Rep Rev 3(3):-
Date: 2019 Sep
PubMed ID: 31828233
Abstract: Purpose: Current cancer registry data cannot distinguish a justified cancer of unknown primary (CUP) diagnosis, where the patient received a complete diagnostic evaluation that was unable to identify the primary tumor, from potentially misclassified patients, documented as CUP but not based on a complete diagnostic evaluation. This misclassification may skew population-based cancer registry surveillance research used to frame and guide translational CUP research. We identified characteristics of patients who received justified vs. potentially misclassified CUP diagnoses in cancer registry data. Methods: We developed a conceptual definition of a complete diagnostic evaluation from professional society-recommended guidelines. We translated this definition into procedure codes in the Medicare encounter data. We assessed age, gender, comorbidities, urban or rural residence, income, race, and tumor pathology by receipt of a complete diagnostic evaluation and palliative therapy among 10,575 elderly CUP patients in the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER)-Medicare dataset. We calculated odds ratios and adjusted probabilities using marginal standardization. Results: Only 35% of elderly CUP patients identified in the cancer registry received a complete diagnostic evaluation. After adjustment for age and comorbidities, socioeconomic barriers to a complete diagnostic evaluation persisted: adjusted odds ratio and 95% confidence interval (AOR) for rural vs. urban 0.8(0.8,0.9) and for highest income vs. lowest income 1.2(1.1,1.4). Patients with vague or undocumented tumor pathology in SEER had 80% lower odds of receiving a complete diagnostic evaluation AOR(95%CI)=0.2(0.2,0.2). Although patients with a complete diagnostic evaluation were twice as likely to receive palliative therapy than those without a complete evaluation, AOR(95%CI)=2.0(1.7,2.3), they only had a 46.7% probability of receiving therapy, 95%CI=(44.4,49.1). Conclusion: Patients without a complete diagnostic evaluation are not limited to the frail and underserved. For accurate assessment of the CUP burden and disparities in utilization of diagnostic care, we recommend that the SEER definition of CUP include the extent of diagnostic inquiry.