1 Division of Surgical Oncology, Department of Surgery, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas.
2 Division of Digestive and Liver Diseases, Department of Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas.
Fragmented cancer care (FC), or care received from multiple institutions, increases systemic health care costs and potentiates cancer care disparities. There is a paucity of data on mechanisms contributing to FC and the resulting effect on patient outcomes. This study characterized patient- and hospital-level factors associated with FC, time to treatment (TTT), and overall survival (OS) in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
Patients newly diagnosed with HCC from 2004 to 2015 and receiving treatment were identified in the Texas Cancer Registry. Patient- and hospital-level factors were compared across 2 cohorts: an FC treatment group and a nonfragmented cancer care (NFC) treatment group. Covariate-adjusted treatment use and OS were compared between the 2 treatment groups.
Among 4329 patients with HCC, 1185 (27.4%) received FC, and 3144 (72.6%) received NFC. Compared with NFC patients, FC patients had larger tumors (median size ≥4 cm, 52.6% vs 35.2%; P < .001), and a higher proportion had a regional/metastatic stage (35.9% vs 26.7%; P < .001). Among patients with localized disease, FC was associated with decreased odds of curative therapy (odds ratio, 0.83; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.7-0.9). FC was associated with worse OS (hazard ratio [HR], 1.14; 95% CI, 1.05-1.24) and increased TTT (HR, 0.76; 95% CI, 0.7-0.8). In the subset of patients with localized-stage HCC who received curative therapy, FC was associated with worse OS (median survival, 67 vs 43 months; HR, 1.2; 95% CI, 1.0-1.4) and increased TTT (HR, 0.74; 95% CI, 0.7-0.8).
FC patients were less likely to undergo curative therapy when they were diagnosed at an early stage. After covariate adjustment, newly diagnosed patients with HCC receiving FC had worse OS and increased TTT.