Physician characteristics are associated with quality of cancer care

Jan 29, 2008

Whether a woman receives radiation after breast cancer surgery may be associated with certain characteristics of her surgeon, including sex and medical training, according to a study published online January 29 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Many breast cancer patients do not receive radiation after undergoing breast conservation surgery, despite the fact that this treatment is considered a standard of quality cancer care and has been shown to reduce breast cancer recurrence. Previous studies have shown that certain patient characteristics, such as a patient’s race and distance from a radiation therapy facility, are associated with receiving post-surgical radiation. But it has been unclear whether physician characteristics also play a role in the quality of breast cancer care.

Dawn Hershman, M.D., of Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at Columbia University in New York and colleagues investigated whether surgeon characteristics were associated with a patient receiving radiation after breast cancer surgery. They identified and analyzed data on nearly 30,000 women aged 65 and older with breast cancer who were diagnosed between 1991 and 2002 and who received breast-conserving surgery. They also collected information on the 4,453 surgeons who operated on these women—including their sex, year of graduation, medical school location, patient volume, and type of medical degree.

About 75 percent of the women received radiation after surgery. Each year from 1991 to 2002, the proportion of women receiving radiation increased. Nonetheless, older women, black women, unmarried women, and those living outside urban areas were less likely to receive radiation. After adjusting for patient and tumor characteristics, the researchers found that women who received radiation were more likely to have a surgeon who was female, had an M.D. degree (compared to a D.O. degree), or was trained in the United States.

“Our study is one of the first to demonstrate associations between certain surgeon characteristics and quality of breast cancer care… If confirmed, more research is needed on whether they reflect surgeon behavior, patient response, or physician-patient interactions,” the authors write.

Source: Journal of the National Cancer Institute

Explore further: How a common antacid could lead to cheaper anti-cancer drugs

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

US northeast braces for flooding after record snow

8 hours ago

Weather forecasters and emergency officials warned Sunday that melting snow would lead to heavy flooding in parts of the US northeast, with hundreds of thousands of people told to brace for fast-rising waters.

How the hummingbird achieves its aerobatic feats

16 hours ago

(Phys.org) —The sight of a tiny hummingbird hovering in front of a flower and then darting to another with lightning speed amazes and delights. But it also leaves watchers with a persistent question: How ...

'Mind the gap' between atomically thin materials

17 hours ago

In subway stations around London, the warning to "Mind the Gap" helps commuters keep from stepping into empty space as they leave the train. When it comes to engineering single-layer atomic structures, minding ...

Recommended for you

How a common antacid could lead to cheaper anti-cancer drugs

1 hour ago

A popular indigestion medication can increase survival in colorectal cancer, according to research published in ecancermedicalscience. But in fact, scientists have studied this for years - and a group of cancer advocates want t ...

Vaccines may make war on cancer personal

2 hours ago

In the near future, physicians may treat some cancer patients with personalized vaccines that spur their immune systems to attack malignant tumors. New research led by scientists at Washington University ...

Funding to investigate an alternative to chemotherapy

3 hours ago

Professor Simon Rule, Professor in Haematology at Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry and Consultant Haematologist at Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, has been awarded a significant grant by Cancer ...

Enzyme may be key to cancer progression in many tumors

3 hours ago

Mutations in the KRAS gene have long been known to cause cancer, and about one third of solid tumors have KRAS mutations or mutations in the KRAS pathway. KRAS promotes cancer formation not only by driving ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.