In 1999, a series of clinical trials along with a clinical announcement from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) suggested that chemotherapy should be used concurrently with pelvic radiation in the management of cervical cancer. The purpose of this study is to examine the rate of chemotherapy use, in the province of Ontario, before and after these publications.
All incident cases of cervix cancer diagnosed between January 1, 1995, and March 31, 2001, were identified using the provincial cancer registry. These records were electronically linked to billing claims data and inpatient discharge abstract data. Patients receiving brachytherapy within six months of diagnosis were identified. The proportion receiving at least one injection of chemotherapy before brachytherapy was identified and compared in the "pre" and "post" publication group (April 1, 1999, cutoff).
Investigators identified 1,039 cases as receiving curative radiation. In the pre cohort, 9.4% of patients received chemotherapy (95% CI, 7.3-11.4%) vs. 67.4% in the post cohort (95% CI, 61.8-73.0%). The change occurred abruptly in the first quarter of 1999.
There was a significant increase in chemotherapy use after the publication of the NCI alert and related trials. Reasons for rapid uptake are discussed in the full study.