Purpose: The extent to which new techniques for the delivery of radiotherapy for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) have diffused into clinical practice is unclear, including the use of 3-dimensional conformal RT (3D-RT) and intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT).
Methods and materials: Using the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER)-Medicare linked database, we identified 2,495 Medicare patients with Stage I-IVB HNSCC diagnosed at age 65 years or older between 2000 and 2005 and treated with either definitive (80%) or adjuvant (20%) radiotherapy. Our primary aim was to analyze the trends and predictors of IMRT use over this time, and the secondary aim was a similar description of the trends and predictors of conformal radiotherapy (CRT) use, defined as treatment with either 3D-RT or IMRT.
Results: Three hundred sixty-four (15%) patients were treated with IMRT, and 1,190 patients (48%) were treated with 3D-RT. Claims for IMRT and CRT rose from 0% to 33% and 39% to 86%, respectively, between 2000 and 2005. On multivariable analysis, IMRT use was associated with SEER region (West 18%; Northeast 11%; South 12%; Midwest 13%), advanced stage (advanced, 21%; early, 9%), non-larynx site (non-larynx, 23%; larynx, 7%), higher median census tract income (highest vs. lowest quartile, 18% vs. 10%), treatment year (2003-2005, 31%; 2000-2002, 6%), use of chemotherapy (26% with; 9% without), and higher radiation oncologist treatment volume (highest vs. lowest tertile, 23% vs. 8%). With CRT as the outcome, only SEER region, treatment year, use of chemotherapy, and increasing radiation oncologist HNSCC volume were significant on multivariable analysis.
Conclusions: The use of IMRT and CRT by Medicare beneficiaries with HNSCC rose significantly between 2000 and 2005 and was associated with both clinical and non-clinical factors, with treatment era and radiation oncologist HNSCC treatment volume serving as the strongest predictors of IMRT use.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.