Survival implications of time to surgical treatment of endometrial cancers

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Abstract

Background:

Optimal care for women with endometrial cancers often involves transfer of care from diagnosing physicians (eg, obstetrician-gynecologists) to treating physicians (eg, gynecologic oncologists.) It is critical to determine the effect of time to treatment on cancer outcomes to set best practices guidelines for referral processes.

Objective:

We sought to determine the impact of time from diagnosis of endometrial cancer to surgical treatment on mortality and to characterize those patients who may be at highest risk for worsened survival related to surgical timing.

Study Design:

The National Cancer Database was queried for incident endometrial cancers in adults from 2003 through 2012. Cancers were classified as low risk (grade 1 or 2 endometrioid histologies) or high risk (nonendometrioid and grade 3 endometrioid histologies) and analyzed separately. Demographic, clinicopathologic, and health system factors were collected. Unadjusted and adjusted hazard ratios for mortality were calculated by interval between diagnosis and surgery. Linear regression of patient and health care system characteristics was performed on diagnosis-to-surgery interval.

Results:

For low-risk cancers (N = 140,078), surgery in the first and second weeks after diagnosis was independently associated with mortality risk (hazard ratio, 1.4; 95% confidence interval, 1.3–1.5; and hazard ratio, 1.1; 95% confidence interval, 1.0–1.2, respectively). The 30-day postoperative mortality was significantly higher among patients undergoing surgery in the first or second week postdiagnosis, compared to patients treated in the third or fourth week postdiagnosis (0.7% vs 0.4%; P < .001). Mortality risk was also significantly higher than baseline when time between diagnosis and surgery was >8 weeks. Independent associations with added time to surgery of at least 1 week were seen with black race (1.1 weeks; 95% confidence interval, 0.9–1.4), uninsurance (1.3 weeks; 95% confidence interval, 1.1–1.5), Medicaid insurance (1.7 weeks; 95% confidence interval, 1.5–1.9), and Charlson-Deyo comorbidity score >1 (1.0 weeks; 95% confidence interval, 0.8–1.2). For high-risk cancers (N = 68,360), surgery in the first and second weeks after diagnosis was independently associated with mortality risk (hazard ratio, 1.5; 95% confidence interval, 1.3–1.6; and hazard ratio, 1.2; 95% confidence interval, 1.1–1.2, respectively). The 30-day postoperative mortality was significantly higher among patients undergoing surgery in the first or second week postdiagnosis, compared to patients treated in the third or fourth week postdiagnosis (2.5% vs 1.0%; P < .001). Surgery after the third week postdiagnosis was not associated with a statistically significant increase in the adjusted risk of mortality. Independent associations with added time to surgery of at least 1 week were seen with uninsurance (1.4 weeks; 95% confidence interval, 0.9–1.9) and Medicaid insurance (1.4 weeks; 95% confidence interval, 1.1–1.7).

Conclusion:

Surgery in the first 2 weeks after diagnosis of endometrial cancer was associated with worsened survival associated with elevated perioperative mortality and treatment in low-volume hospitals. Delay in surgical treatment was a risk factor for mortality in low-risk cancers only and was likely associated with poor access to specialty care. We suggest that the target interval between diagnosis and treatment of endometrial cancers be ≤8 weeks; however, referral to an experienced surgeon and adequate preoperative optimization should be prioritized over expedited surgery.

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