Cross-Canada differences in early-stage breast cancer treatment and acute-care use

M. Powis, P. Groome, N. Biswanger, C. Kendell, K. M. Decker, E. Grunfeld, M. L. McBride, R. Urquhart, M. Winget, G. A. Porter, M. K. Krzyzanowska


Background Chemotherapy has improved outcomes in early-stage breast cancer, but treatment practices vary, and use of acute care is common. We conducted a pan-Canadian study to describe treatment differences and the incidence of emergency department visits (edvs), edvs leading to hospitalization (edvhs), and direct hospitalizations (hs) during adjuvant chemotherapy.

Methods The cohort consisted of women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer (stages i–iii) during 2007–2012 in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, or Nova Scotia who underwent curative surgery. Parallel provincial analyses were undertaken using linked clinical, registry, and administrative databases. The incidences of edvs, edvhs, and hs in the 6 months after treatment initiation were examined for patients treated with adjuvant chemotherapy.

Results The cohort consisted of 50,224 patients. The proportion of patients who received chemotherapy varied by province, with Ontario having the highest proportion (46.4%), and Nova Scotia, the lowest proportion (38.0%). Age, stage, receptor status, comorbidities, and geographic location were associated with receipt of chemotherapy in all provinces. Ontario had the highest proportion of patients experiencing an edv (36.1%), but the lowest proportion experiencing h (6.4%). Conversely, British Columbia had the lowest proportion of patients experiencing an edv (16.0%), but the highest proportion experiencing h (26.7%). The proportion of patients having an edvh was similar across provinces (13.9%–16.8%). Geographic location was associated with edvs, edvhs, and hs in all provinces.

Conclusions Intra- and inter-provincial differences in the use of chemotherapy and acute care were observed. Understanding variations in care can help to identify gaps and opportunities for improvement and shared learnings.


Breast cancer; systemic therapy; administrative data; hospitalizations; emergency department visits

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ISSN: 1198-0052 (Print) ISSN: 1718-7729 (Online)