Aim: To investigate the effect of the establishment of in-house multidisciplinary team (MDT) availability (iMDTa) on survival in upper gastrointestinal cancer (UGI) patients.
Methods: In 2001, a cancer centre with irradiation and chemotherapy facilities was established in the Norwegian county of West Agder with a change of iMDTa (WA/MDT-Change). "iMDTa"-status was defined according to the availability of the necessary specialists within one institution on one campus, serving the population of one county. We compared survival rates during 2000-2008 for UGI patients living in counties with (MDT-Yes), without (MDT-No), with a mix (MDT-Mix) and WA/MDT-Change. Survival was calculated with Kaplan-Meier method. Cox model was used to uncover differences between counties with different MDT status when adjusted for age, sex and stage.
Results: We analyzed 395 patients from WA/MDT-Change and compared their survival to 12 135 UGI patients from four other Norwegian regions. Median overall survival for UGI patients in WA/MDT-Change increased from 129 to 300 d from 2000-2008, P = 0.001. The regions with the highest level of iMDTa achieved the largest decrease in risk of death for UGI cancers (compared to the county with MDT-Mix: MDT-Yes 11%, P < 0.05 and WA/MDT-Change 15%, P < 0.05). Analyzing the different tumour entities separately, patients living in the WA/MDT-Change county reached a statistically significant reduction in the risk of death [hazard ratios (HR)] compared to patients in the county with MDT-Mix for oesophageal and gastric, but not for pancreatic cancer. HR for the study period 2000-2004 are given first and then for the period 2005-2008: The HR for oesophageal cancers was reduced from [HR = 1.12; 95%CI: 0.75-1.68 to HR = 0.60, 95%CI: 0.38-0.95] and for gastric cancers from [HR = 0.87, 95%CI: 0.66-1.15 to HR = 0.63, 95%CI: 0.43-0.93], but not for pancreatic cancer [HR = 1.04-, 95%CI: 0.83-1.3 for 2000-2004 and HR = 1.01, 95%CI: 0.78-1.3 for 2005-2008]. UGI patients treated during the second study period in the county of WA/MDT-Change had a higher probability of receiving chemotherapy. In the first study period, only one out of 43 patients (2.4%, 95%CI: 0-6.9) received chemotherapy, compared to 18 of 42 patients diagnosed during 2005-2008 (42.9%, 95%CI: 28.0-57.8).
Conclusion: Introduction of iMDTa led to a two-fold increase of UGI patients, whereas no increase in survival was found in the MDT-No or MDT-Mix counties.
Keywords: Gastric cancer; Gastroesophageal cancer; Multidisciplinary team; Multidisciplinary treatment; Oesophageal cancer; Pancreatic cancer; Survival.