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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2014 Jul 15;89(4):756-64. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2014.03.024. Epub 2014 May 3.

Refusal of curative radiation therapy and surgery among patients with cancer.

Author information

1
Harvard Radiation Oncology Program, Boston, Massachusetts. Electronic address: aaaizer@partners.org.
2
Department of Statistics, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut.
3
Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts.
4
Lank Center for Genitourinary Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.
5
Department of Radiation Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas.
6
Department of Urology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota.
7
Department of Urology, University of California, Los Angeles, California.
8
Cancer Prognostics and Health Outcomes Unit, University of Montreal Health Center, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

Surgery and radiation therapy represent the only curative options for many patients with solid malignancies. However, despite the recommendations of their physicians, some patients refuse these therapies. This study characterized factors associated with refusal of surgical or radiation therapy as well as the impact of refusal of recommended therapy on patients with localized malignancies.

METHODS AND MATERIALS:

We used the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program to identify a population-based sample of 925,127 patients who had diagnoses of 1 of 8 common malignancies for which surgery and/or radiation are believed to confer a survival benefit between 1995 and 2008. Refusal of oncologic therapy, as documented in the SEER database, was the primary outcome measure. Multivariable logistic regression was used to investigate factors associated with refusal. The impact of refusal of therapy on cancer-specific mortality was assessed with Fine and Gray's competing risks regression.

RESULTS:

In total, 2441 of 692,938 patients (0.4%) refused surgery, and 2113 of 232,189 patients (0.9%) refused radiation, despite the recommendations of their physicians. On multivariable analysis, advancing age, decreasing annual income, nonwhite race, and unmarried status were associated with refusal of surgery, whereas advancing age, decreasing annual income, Asian American race, and unmarried status were associated with refusal of radiation (P<.001 in all cases). Refusal of surgery and radiation were associated with increased estimates of cancer-specific mortality for all malignancies evaluated (hazard ratio [HR], 2.80, 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.59-3.03; P<.001 and HR 1.97 [95% CI, 1.78-2.18]; P<.001, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS:

Nonwhite, less affluent, and unmarried patients are more likely to refuse curative surgical and/or radiation-based oncologic therapy, raising concern that socioeconomic factors may drive some patients to forego potentially life-saving care.

PMID:
24803037
DOI:
10.1016/j.ijrobp.2014.03.024
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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