Characterizing Radiation Treatment Interruption in the Southeast: a Quantitaitve Approach
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women in the United States. In Georgia, it is the most prevalent form of malignancy (126.8 age-adjusted cases per 100,000), and a substantial cause of mortality among women (21.6 deaths per 100,000). Women in Southeast Georgia are less likely to have been screened for breast cancer compared to their counterparts in other parts of the state, leading to late entry into care and worse health outcomes. Radiation therapy is a critical tool utilized to treat breast cancer at nearly every stage. Radiation treatment interruption (RTI), is defined for purposes of this study as not presenting for one or more radiotherapy appointments, and is associated with poorer clinical outcomes. Vulnerable populations are significantly more likely to experience RTI. The aim of this quantitative study included uncovering and understanding the characteristics of women who experience RTI (while being treated for breast cancer) through statistical analysis of EMR data. This study found the odds of experiencing RTI was greater for those who presented with either Medicaid, Medicare, or a military primary insurer than those with a private/commercial primary insurer. It also found that increases in patient-reported fatigue at presentation for treatment were associated with an increase in odds of experiencing one or more RTI. Variables including race, distance between residence and treatment facility, age, RUCC, and pain index did not appear to hinder (or enhance) patients’ ability to attend their scheduled radiotherapy appointments.