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Cancer. 2018 Aug 1;124(15):3181-3191. doi: 10.1002/cncr.31571. Epub 2018 Jun 22.

Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Travel for Head and Neck Cancer Treatment and the Impact of Travel Distance on Survival.

Author information

1
Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina.
2
Hollings Cancer Center, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina.
3
Department of Public Health Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina.
4
Division of Medical Oncology, Department of Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina.
5
Department of Radiation Oncology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina.
6
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Patients who travel a long distance (≥50 miles) for cancer care have improved outcomes. However, to the authors' knowledge, the prevalence of long travel distances for treatment by patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), and the effect of travel distance on overall survival (OS), remains unknown.

METHODS:

The authors used the National Cancer Data base from 2004 through 2013 to identify patients with HNSCC undergoing definitive treatment. Travel distance for treatment was categorized as short (<12.5 miles), intermediate (12.5-49.9 miles), and long (50-249.9 miles). The primary outcome, OS, was evaluated using Cox shared-frailty modeling. A secondary outcome, factors associated with intermediate and long travel distances, was evaluated using multivariable hierarchical logistic regression.

RESULTS:

Among 118,000 patients with HNSCC, 62,753 (53.2%), 40,644 (34.4%), and 14,603 (12.4%) patients, respectively, traveled short, intermediate, and long distances for treatment. After adjusting for relevant covariates, long travel distance was associated with treatment at academic and high-volume centers. Patients of black race, of Hispanic ethnicity, with Medicaid insurance, and who were treated with nonsurgical treatment were less likely to travel long distances for treatment (P<.001). Traveling a long distance for treatment was associated with improved OS on multivariable analysis (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.93; 95% confidence interval, 0.89-0.96) compared with a short distance.

CONCLUSIONS:

Traveling a long distance for HNSCC treatment is associated with improved survival, especially for patients receiving nonsurgical management. Racial and ethnic disparities in travel for HNSCC treatment exist. As regionalization of care continues, future work should identify and address reasons for racial and ethnic disparities in travel that may prevent access to care at high-volume facilities. Cancer 2018;000:000-000. © 2018 American Cancer Society.

KEYWORDS:

head and neck cancer; health services; quality of care; racial disparities; travel distance

PMID:
29932220
PMCID:
PMC6097948
DOI:
10.1002/cncr.31571
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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