Background: The National Cancer Data Base (NCDB) of the Commission on Cancer gathers data on time trends in stage of disease, treatment patterns, and survival for selected cancers. The most current (1991) data for pancreatic cancer are described here. The NCDB data contain important reference information regarding patient and hospital demographics associated with the diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic cancer.
Methods: Three Calls for Data have yielded a total of 17,490 cases for 1985, 1986, and 1991, from 937 hospital cancer registries across the United States. The data for 1991 represent 32% of all pancreas cancer cases for U.S.
Results: A higher incidence of more advanced disease was reported for the youngest group of patients, Hispanics, African Americans, Asians, males and patients seen at smaller hospitals. For all patients combined, only 14.2% were reported to have had a pancreatectomy. Older patients, patients from lower income zip codes, and African Americans were somewhat less likely to have received a pancreatectomy. Cancer of the body of the pancreas was the anatomic subsite for which patients with pancreatic cancer were least likely to receive a pancreatectomy. Patients seen at hospitals with larger case-loads and at teaching hospitals were more frequently reported as having had a pancreatectomy. Between 1985-1986 and 1991, there was a trend from treatment with surgery only or radiation only toward more frequent use of combined chemoradiation without surgery. There was less radiation reported as received by patients at hospitals with fewer than 150 annual cancer caseloads compared with hospitals with larger caseload. For patients with resectable tumors, a moderate survival advantage was reported compared with nonresectable tumors: 1-year, 48% versus 23%; 2-year, 24% versus 9%; 3-year, 17% versus 6% respectively.
Conclusions: The NCDB provides a powerful tool for examining practice patterns and outcome of cancer care in the U.S. The present report, covering one-third of all patients treated in the U.S. in 1991, confirms the advanced disease status of patients with pancreatic cancer. Minority groups present with more advanced disease and are less likely to undergo resection, currently the only potentially curative therapy. Resectability rates appear to be higher in large caseload hospitals.