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Choosing wisely after publication of level I evidence in breast cancer radiotherapy

Authors Niska JR, Keole SR, Pockaj BA, Halyard MY, Patel SH, Northfelt DW, Gray RJ, Wasif N, Vargas CE, Wong WW

Received 3 October 2017

Accepted for publication 18 December 2017

Published 9 February 2018 Volume 2018:10 Pages 31—37


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Pranela Rameshwar

Joshua R Niska,1 Sameer R Keole,1 Barbara A Pockaj,2 Michele Y Halyard,1 Samir H Patel,1 Donald W Northfelt,3 Richard J Gray,2 Nabil Wasif,2 Carlos E Vargas,1 William W Wong1

1Department of Radiation Oncology, 2Division of General Surgery, 3Division of Hematology and Medical Oncology, Mayo Clinic Hospital, Phoenix, AZ, USA

Background: Recent trials in early-stage breast cancer support hypofractionated whole-breast radiotherapy (WBRT) as part of breast-conserving therapy (BCT). Evidence also suggests that radiotherapy (RT) omission may be reasonable for some patients over 70 years. Among radiation-delivery techniques, intensity-modulated RT (IMRT) is more expensive than 3-dimensional conformal RT (3DCRT). Based on this evidence, in 2013, the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) recommended hypofractionated schedules for women aged ≥50 years with early-stage breast cancer and avoiding routine use of IMRT for WBRT. To assess response to level I evidence and adherence to ASTRO recommendations, we evaluated the pattern of RT use for early-stage breast cancer at our National Comprehensive Cancer Network institution from 2006 to 2008 and 2011 to 2013 and compared the results with national trends.
Methods: Data from a prospective database were extracted to include patients treated with BCT, aged ≥50 years, with histologic findings of invasive ductal carcinoma, stage T1-T2N0M0, estrogen receptor-positive, and HER2 normal. We retrospectively reviewed the medical records and estimated costs based on 2016 Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System (technical fees) and Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (professional fees).
Results: Among 55 cases from 2006 to 2008, treatment regimens were 11% hypofractionated, 69% traditional schedule, and 20% RT omission (29% of patients were aged >70 years). Among 83 cases from 2011 to 2013, treatment regimens were 54% hypofractionated, 19% traditional schedule, and 27% RT omission (48% of patients were aged >70 years). 3DCRT was used for all WBRT treatments. Direct medical cost estimates were as follows: 15 fractions 3DCRT, $7,197.87; 15 fractions IMRT, $11,232.33; 25 fractions 3DCRT, $9,731.39; and 25 fractions IMRT, $16,877.45.
Conclusion: Despite apparent resistance to shorter radiation schedules in the United States, we demonstrate that rapid practice change in response to level I evidence is feasible. Wider adoption of evidence-based guidelines in early-stage breast cancer may substantially lower health care costs and improve convenience for patients without sacrificing oncologic outcomes.

Keywords: breast cancer, CALGB, choosing wisely, hypofractionation, omission, UK START

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