Disparities in radiation therapy utilization for cancer patients in Victoria
Abstract: Introduction: To evaluate the proportion of cancer patients who received radiation therapy (RT) within 12 months of cancer diagnosis (RTU12) and identify factors associated with RTU12. Methods: This is a population‐based cohort of individuals with incident cancer, diagnosed between 2013 and 2017 in Victoria. Data linkages were performed between the Victorian Cancer Registry and Victorian Radiotherapy Minimum Dataset. The primary outcome was the proportion of patients who had RTU12. For the three most common cancers (i.e., prostate, breast and lung cancer), the time trend in RTU12 and factors associated with RTU12 were evaluated. Results: The overall RTU12 in our study cohort was 26–20% radical RT and 6% palliative RT. Of the 21,735 men with prostate cancer, RTU12 was 17%, with no significant change over time (P‐trend = 0.53). In multivariate analyses, increasing age and lower socioeconomic status were independently associated with higher RTU12 for prostate cancer. Of the 20,883 women with breast cancer, RTU12 was 64%, which increased from 62% in 2013 to 65% in 2017 (P‐trend < 0.05). In multivariate analyses, age, socioeconomic status and area of residency were independently associated with RTU12 for breast cancer. Of the 13,093 patients with lung cancer, RTU12 was 42%, with no significant change over time (P‐trend = 0.16). In multivariate analyses, younger age, male and lower socioeconomic status were independently associated with higher RTU12. Conclusion: In this large population‐based state‐wide cohort of cancer patients, only 1 in 4 had RT within 12 months of diagnosis. There were marked sociodemographic disparities in RTU12 for prostate, breast and lung cancer patients.