Haas JS, Phillips KA, Liang SY, Hassett MJ, Keohane C, Elkin EB, Armstrong J, Toscano M., J Oncol Pract. 7(3 Suppl):e1s-7s. doi: 10.1200/JOP.2011.000299, 2011 May 01
PURPOSE: Given the likely proliferation of targeted testing and treatment strategies for cancer, a better understanding of the utilization patterns of human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) testing and trastuzumab and newer gene expression profiling (GEP) for risk stratification and chemotherapy decision making are important.
STUDY DESIGN: Cross-sectional.
METHODS: We performed a medical record review of women age 35 to 65 years diagnosed between 2006 and 2007 with invasive localized breast cancer, identified using claims from a large national health plan (N = 775).
RESULTS: Almost all women received HER2 testing (96.9%), and 24.9% of women with an accepted indication received GEP. Unexplained socioeconomic differences in GEP use were apparent after adjusting for age and clinical characteristics; specifically, GEP use increased with income. For example, those in the lowest income category (< $40,000) were less likely than those with an income of $125,000 or more to receive GEP (odds ratio, 0.34; 95% CI, 0.16 to 0.73). A majority of women (57.7%) with HER2-positive disease received trastuzumab; among these women, differences in age and clinical characteristics were not apparent, although surprisingly, those in the lowest income category were more likely than those in the high-income category to receive trastuzumab (P = .02). Among women who did not have a positive HER2 test, 3.9% still received trastuzumab. Receipt of adjuvant chemotherapy increased as GEP score indicated greater risk of recurrence.
CONCLUSION: Identifying and eliminating unnecessary variation in the use of these expensive tests and treatments should be part of quality improvement and efficiency programs.