The Impact of Geography in Hepatocellular Carcinoma: A Retrospective Population Based Study

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Curr Oncol. 2021 Jan 12;28(1):396-404. doi: 10.3390/curroncol28010042.


BACKGROUND: The treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) includes different therapeutic modalities and multidisciplinary tumor board reviews. The impact of geography and treatment center type (quaternary vs. non-quaternary) on access to care is unclear.

METHODS: A retrospective chart review was performed on HCC patients who received sorafenib in British Columbia from 2008 to 2016. Patients were grouped by Statistics Canada population center (PC) size criteria: large PC (LPC), medium PC (MPC), and small PC (SPC). Access to specialists, receipt of liver-directed therapies, and survival outcomes were compared between the groups.

RESULTS: Of 286 patients, the geographical distribution was: LPC: 75%; MPC: 16%; and SPC: 9%. A higher proportion of Asians (51% vs. 9% vs. 4%; p < 0.001), Child-Pugh A (94% vs. 83% vs. 80%; p = 0.022), and hepatitis B (37% vs. 15% vs. 4%; p < 0.001) was observed in LPC vs. MPC vs. SPC, respectively. LPC patients were more likely referred to a hepatologist (62% vs. 48% vs. 40%; p = 0.031) and undergo transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) (43% vs. 24% vs. 24%; p = 0.018). Sixty percent were treated at a quaternary center, and the median overall survival (OS) was higher for patients treated at a quaternary vs. non-quaternary center (28.0 vs. 14.6 months, respectively; p < 0.001) but similar when compared by PC size. Treatment at a quaternary center predicted an improved survival on multivariate analysis (hazard ratio (HR): 0.652; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.503-0.844; p = 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: Geography did not appear to impact OS but patients from LPC were more likely to be referred to hepatology and undergo TACE. Treatment at a quaternary center was associated with an improved survival.

PMID:33445517 | DOI:10.3390/curroncol28010042