An association between volume and outcomes has been observed for esophagectomy, though little is known about why or how patients choose low- or high-volume centers. The purpose of this study was to evaluate how travel burden and hospital volume influence treatment and outcomes of patients with locally advanced esophageal cancer.Methods:
Predictors of receiving esophagectomy for patients with T1-3N1M0 mid or distal esophageal cancer in the National Cancer Data Base from 2006 to 2011 were identified using multivariable logistic regression. Survival was compared using propensity score-matched groups: patients in the bottom quartile of travel distance who underwent treatment at low-volume facilities (Local) and patients in the top quartile of travel distance who underwent treatment at high-volume facilities (Travel).Results:
Of 4979 patients who met inclusion criteria, we identified 867 Local patients who traveled 2.7 [interquartile range (IQR): 1.6–4 miles] miles to centers that treated 2.6 (IQR: 1.9–3.3) esophageal cancers per year, and 317 Travel patients who traveled 107.1 (IQR: 65–247) miles to centers treating 31.9 (IQR: 30.9–38.5) cases. Travel patients were more likely to undergo esophagectomy (67.8% vs 42.9%, P < 0.001) and had significantly better 5-year survival (39.8% vs 20.6%, P < 0.001) than Local patients.Conclusions:
Patients who travel longer distances to high-volume centers have significantly different treatment and better outcomes than patients who stay close to home at low-volume centers. Strategies that support patient travel for treatment at high-volume centers may improve esophageal cancer outcomes.