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Impact of geography on care delivery and survival for noncurable pancreatic adenocarcinoma: a population-based analysis

Yee EK, Coburn NG, Davis LE, Mahar AL, Zuk V, Gupta V, Liu Y, Earle CC, Hallet J. J Natl Compr Canc Netw. 2020; 18(12):1642-50. Epub 2020 Dec 2. DOI:

Background — Little is known about how the geographic distribution of cancer services may influence disparities in outcomes for noncurable pancreatic adenocarcinoma. We therefore examined the geographic distribution of outcomes for this disease in relation to distance to cancer centers.

Methods — We conducted a retrospective population-based analysis of adults in Ontario, Canada, diagnosed with noncurable pancreatic adenocarcinoma from 2004 through 2017 using linked administrative healthcare datasets. The exposure was distance from place of residence to the nearest cancer center providing medical oncology assessment and systemic therapy. Outcomes were medical oncology consultation, receipt of cancer-directed therapy, and overall survival. We examined the relationship between distance and outcomes using adjusted multivariable regression models.

Results — Of 15,970 patients surviving a median of 3.3 months, 65.6% consulted medical oncology and 38.5% received systemic therapy. Regions with comparable outcomes were clustered throughout Ontario. Mapping revealed regional discordances between outcomes. Increasing distance (reference, ≤10 km) was independently associated with lower likelihood of medical oncology consultation (relative risks [95% CI] for 11–50, 51–100, and ≥101 km were 0.90 [0.83–0.98], 0.78 [0.62–0.99], and 0.77 [0.55–1.08], respectively) and worse survival (hazard ratios [95% CI] for 11–50, 51–100, and ≥101 km were 1.08 [1.04–1.12], 1.17 [1.10–1.25], and 1.10 [1.02–1.18], respectively), but not with likelihood of receiving therapy. Receipt of therapy seems less sensitive to distance, suggesting that distance limits entry into the cancer care system via oncology consultation. Regional outcome discordances suggest inefficiencies within and protective factors outside of the cancer care system.

Conclusions — These findings provide a basis for clinicians to optimize their practices for patients with noncurable pancreatic adenocarcinoma, for future studies investigating geographic barriers to care, and for regional interventions to improve access.

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