Impact of hospital volume on mortality for brain metastases treated with radiation

Rep Pract Oncol Radiother. 2021 Aug 12;26(4):626-634. doi: 10.5603/RPOR.a2021.0084. eCollection 2021.


Background: The impact of hospital volume on cancer patient survival has been demonstrated in the surgical literature, but sparsely for patients receiving radiation therapy (RT). This analysis addresses the impact of hospital volume on patients receiving RT for the most common central nervous system tumor: brain metastases.

Materials and methods: Analysis was conducted using the National Cancer Database (NCDB) from 2010-2015 for patients with metastatic brain disease from lung cancer, breast cancer, and colorectal cancer requiring RT. Hospital volume was stratified as high-volume (≥ 12 brain RT/year), moderate (5-11 RT/year), and low (< 5 RT/year). The effect of hospital volume on overall survival was assessed using a multivariable Cox regression model.

Results: A total of 18,841 patients [9479 (50.3%) men, 9362 (49.7%) women; median age 64 years] met the inclusion criteria. 16.7% were treated at high-volume hospitals, 36.5% at moderate-volume, and the remaining 46.8% at low-volume centers. Multivariable analysis revealed that mortality was significantly improved in high-volume centers (HR: 0.95, p = 0.039) compared with low-volume centers after accounting for multiple demographics including age, sex, race, insurance status, income, facility type, Charlson-Deyo score and receipt of palliative care.

Conclusion: Hospitals performing 12 or more brain RT procedures per year have significantly improved survival in brain metastases patients receiving radiation as compared to lower volume hospitals. This finding, independent of additional demographics, indicates that the increased experience associated with increased volume may improve survival in this patient population.

Keywords: brain metastases; hospital volume; national cancer database; overall survival; radiation therapy.