Authors: Halasz LM, Patel SA, McDougall JA, Fedorenko C, Sun Q, Goulart BHL, Roth JA
Title: Intensity modulated radiation therapy following lumpectomy in early-stage breast cancer: Patterns of use and cost consequences among Medicare beneficiaries.
Journal: PLoS One 14(9):e0222904-
PubMed ID: 31568536
Abstract: PURPOSE: In 2013, the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) issued a Choosing Wisely recommendation against the routine use of intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) for whole breast irradiation. We evaluated IMRT use and subsequent impact on Medicare expenditure in the period immediately preceding this recommendation to provide a baseline measure of IMRT use and associated cost consequences. METHODS AND MATERIALS: SEER records for women ≥66 years with first primary diagnosis of Stage I/II breast cancer (2008-2011) were linked with Medicare claims (2007-2012). Eligibility criteria included lumpectomy within 6 months of diagnosis and radiotherapy within 6 months of lumpectomy. We evaluated IMRT versus conventional radiotherapy (cRT) use overall and by SEER registry (12 sites). We used generalized estimating equations logit models to explore adjusted odds ratios (OR) for associations between clinical, sociodemographic, and health services characteristics and IMRT use. Mean costs were calculated from Medicare allowable costs in the year after diagnosis. RESULTS: Among 13,037 women, mean age was 74.4, 50.5% had left-sided breast cancer, and 19.8% received IMRT. IMRT use varied from 0% to 52% across SEER registries. In multivariable analysis, left-sided breast cancer (OR 1.75), living in a big metropolitan area (OR 2.39), living in a census tract with ≤$90,000 median income (OR 1.75), neutral or favorable local coverage determination (OR 3.86, 1.72, respectively), and free-standing treatment facility (OR 3.49) were associated with receipt of IMRT (p<0.001). Mean expenditure in the year after diagnosis was $8,499 greater (p<0.001) among women receiving IMRT versus cRT. CONCLUSION: We found highly variable use of IMRT and higher expenditure in the year after diagnosis among women treated with IMRT (vs. cRT) with early-stage breast cancer and Medicare insurance. Our findings suggest a considerable opportunity to reduce treatment variation and cost of care while improving alignment between practice and clinical guidelines.