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Factors affecting receipt of chemotherapy in women with breast cancer

Authors Morimoto L, Coalson J, Mowat F, O'Malley C

Published 5 May 2010 Volume 2010:2 Pages 107—122


Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Libby Morimoto1, Jenna Coalson1, Fionna Mowat1, Cynthia O’Malley2

1Exponent Health Sciences, Menlo Park, CA, USA; 2Amgen Global Epidemiology, Thousand Oaks, CA, USA

Aims: To review literature describing factors associated with receipt of chemotherapy for breast cancer, to better understand what factors are most relevant to women’s health and whether health disparities are apparent, and to assess how these factors might affect observational studies and outcomes research. Patterns of care for metastatic breast cancer, for which no standard-of-care exists, were of particular interest.

Methods: Relevant studies written in English, Italian, French, or Spanish, published in 2000 or later, were identified through MEDLINE and reviewed. Review articles and clinical trials were excluded; all observational studies and surveys were considered. Articles were reviewed for any discussion of patient characteristics, hospital/physician/insurance characteristics, psychosocial characteristics, and clinical characteristics affecting receipt of chemotherapy by breast cancer patients.

Results: In general, factors associated with increased likelihood of receiving chemotherapy included younger age, being Caucasian, having good general health and few co-morbidities, having more severe clinical disease, having responded well to previous treatment, and having breast cancer that is estrogen- or progesterone-receptor-negative. Many of the clinical factors found to increase the likelihood of receiving chemotherapy were consistent with current oncology guidelines. Of the relevant 19 studies identified, only six (32%) reported data specific to metastatic cancer; most studies aggregated women with stage I–IV for purposes of analysis.

Conclusion: Studies of patterns of care in breast cancer treatment can help identify challenges in health care provided to particular subgroups of women and can aid researchers in designing studies that account for such factors in clinical and outcomes research. Although scarce, studies evaluating only women with metastatic breast cancer indicate that factors affecting decisions related to receipt of chemotherapy are similar across stage for this disease.

Keywords: breast cancer, chemotherapy, metastatic, treatment decisions, health disparities

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