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J Natl Cancer Inst Monogr. 2013;2013(46):88-98. doi: 10.1093/jncimonographs/lgt006.

Initial treatment for newly diagnosed elderly colorectal cancer patients: patterns of care in Italy and the United States.

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Istituto di Ricerche sulla Popolazione e le Politiche Sociali, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Via Palestro 32-00185 Roma, Italy.


Cancer is a major component of health-care expenditures in most developed countries. The costs of cancer care are expected to increase due to rising incidence (as the population ages) and increasing use of targeted anticancer therapies. However, epidemiological analysis of patterns of care may be required prior to empirically well-grounded cost analyses. Additionally, comparisons of care between health-care delivery systems and countries can identify opportunities to improve practice. They can also increase understanding of patient outcomes and economic consequences of differences in policies related to cancer screening, treatment, and programs of care. In this study, we compared patterns of colorectal cancer treatment during the first year following diagnosis in two cohorts of elderly patients from some areas of Italy and the United States using cancer registry linked to administrative data. We evaluated hospital use, initial treatments (surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation), and timeliness of surgery and adjuvant therapy, taking into account patient characteristics and clinical features, such as stage at diagnosis and the cancer subsite. We observed greater use of adjuvant chemotherapy in stage III and IV colon cancer patients and adjuvant therapy in all stages of rectal cancer patients in the US cohort. We found a higher rate of open surgeries in the Italian cohort, a similar rate of hospitalization, but a higher number of hospital days in the Italian cohort. However, in spite of structural differences between the United States and Italy in health-care organization and delivery as well as in data collection, patterns of care and the timing of care in the year after diagnosis are generally similar among patients within stage of disease at diagnosis. Comparative studies of the costs associated with patterns of cancer care will be important for future research.

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