Background: One of the cornerstones of ovarian cancer therapy is cytoreductive surgery, which can be performed by surgeons with different specialty training. We examined whether surgeon specialty impacts quality of life (as proxied by presence of ostomy) and overall survival for women with advanced ovarian cancer.
Methods: Stage IIIC/IV ovarian cancer patients were identified using 4 state cancer registries: California, Washington, New York, and Florida and linked records to the corresponding inpatient-hospital discharge file, AMA Masterfile, and 2000 U.S. Census SF4 File. Predictors of receipt of care by a general surgeon and creation of fecal ostomy were analyzed. Multivariate modeling was performed to assess the association of hospital volume (low volume (LV) [0-4 cases], middle volume (MV) [5-9], high volume (HV) [10-19], and very high volume (VHV) [20+]) and surgeon specialty training (gynecologic oncologists/gynecologists, general surgeons, and other specialty) on survival.
Results: We identified 31,897 Stage IIIC/IV patients; mean age was 64 years. Treatment of patients by a general surgeon was predicted by LV, rural patient residence, poverty, and high level of comorbidity. Patients had lower hazard of death when treated in higher volume hospitals as compared to LV [VHV hazard ratio (HR)=0.79, P<.0001; HV HR=0.89, P<0.001]. Patients treated by a general surgeon had higher likelihood of an ostomy (OR=4.46, P<.0001) and hazard of death (HR=1.63, P<.0001) compared to gynecologic oncologist/gynecologist.
Conclusions: Advanced stage ovarian cancer patients have better survival when treated by gynecologic oncology/gynecology trained surgeons. Data suggest that referral to these specialists may optimize surgical debulking and minimize the creation of a fecal ostomy.
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