Sociodemographic variation in the use of chemotherapy and radiotherapy in patients with stage IV lung, oesophageal, stomach and pancreatic cancer: evidence from population-based data in England during 2013-2014.
BACKGROUND: Sociodemographic inequalities in cancer treatment have been generally described, but there is little evidence regarding patients with advanced cancer. Understanding variation in the management of these patients may provide insights into likely mechanisms leading to inequalities in survival. METHODS: We identified 50,232 patients with stage IV lung, oesophageal, pancreatic and stomach cancer from the English national cancer registry. A generalised linear model with a Poisson error structure was used to explore variation in radiotherapy and chemotherapy within 6 months from diagnosis by age, sex, deprivation, ethnicity, cancer site, comorbidity and, additionally, performance status. RESULTS: There was substantial variation by cancer site, large gradients by age, and non-trivial associations with comorbidity and deprivation. After full adjustment, more deprived patients were consistently least likely to be treated with chemotherapy alone or chemotherapy and radiotherapy combined compared with less deprived patients with equally advanced disease stage (treatment rate ratio: 0.82 95% CI (0.78, 0.87) for CT, 0.78 95% CI (0.71, 0.85) for CTRT p < 0.0001). CONCLUSIONS: There was marked variation in the management of patients with stage IV cancer. Routinely collected data could be used for surveillance across all cancers to help reduce treatment variation and optimise outcomes among patients with advanced cancer.