Availability may influence cancer treatment decisions

Armen Hareyan's picture

Utilization of cancer treatments with limited evidence of benefit may depend on the therapy's availability according to a new study. Published in the February 15, 2007 issue of CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the study reveals that patients with pancreatic cancer were almost twice as likely to receive radiotherapy, for which there is more controversy regarding efficacy, when the treating hospital had radiotherapy available compared to patients who were treated at centers where radiotherapy was not available. In contrast, availability of radiotherapy had no impact on its utilization in patients diagnosed and treated for rectal cancer for which radiation has been shown to have significant benefits.

In healthcare as in economics, an old argument is "build it and they will come." Studies suggest that there is an observable influence of "availability" or "supply" on population treatment patterns. For example, studies show that cardiac catheterization utilization is influenced not be the number of people who need it

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