ASTRO Annual Meeting

ASTRO Annual Meeting

Source:

Maroongroge S, et al. Abstract 203. Presented at: American Society for Radiation Oncology Annual Meeting (virtual); Oct. 25-28, 2020.

Disclosures: Maroongroge reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the abstract for all other researchers’ relevant financial disclosures.
November 02, 2020
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Number of U.S. radiotherapy facilities rises, but many Americans still lack close access

Source:

Maroongroge S, et al. Abstract 203. Presented at: American Society for Radiation Oncology Annual Meeting (virtual); Oct. 25-28, 2020.

Disclosures: Maroongroge reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the abstract for all other researchers’ relevant financial disclosures.
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Although the percentage of U.S. radiation facilities has increased in the past 15 years, urban areas already dense with these facilities have been disproportionately favored, according to a presenter at the virtual ASTRO Annual Meeting.

Approximately 5% of the U.S. population still reside more than 50 miles from the nearest radiation facility, Sean Maroongroge, MD, MBA, resident in the department of radiation oncology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, said during a press conference.

Sean Maroongroge, MD, MBA, resident in the department of radiation oncology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

“Radiation therapy is a key part of the treatment paradigm for most patients with cancer. It is also unique among treatment modalities in that patients often have to come back for multiple treatments,” Maroongroge said. “The distance from radiation facilities is correlated with the receipt of radiation therapy, and this has been recorded in the literature. For example, patients make the decision to undergo breast-conserving surgery and radiation therapy vs. mastectomy for breast cancer or to undergo definitive radiation therapy vs. surgical management of prostate cancer. Participation in clinical trials is also affected. However, most of these older studies rely on different measures of where patients can get their radiation treatment, such as billing data or where the physicians themselves are located.”

Maroongroge and colleagues took another approach, gathering data from state regulatory agencies, such as health departments and national dosimetry monitoring organizations, to update a 2005 database of radiation therapy clinic locations. They used a web-based program to map facilities that were active between 2018 and 2020 and compared those with information on 2005 facilities.

Results showed that approximately 70% of the U.S. population lives within 12.5 miles of a radiation therapy facility, whereas 4.5% of the U.S. population lives more than 50 miles from the nearest facility.

The overall number of radiation facilities increased from 1,987 in 2005 to 2,332 in 2020, for a growth rate of 17%. However, the percentage of the population residing within 12.5 miles of a facility increased from 65% in 2005 to 70% in 2020, whereas the percentage of those residing within 50 miles of a radiation facility increased from 95% to 96%.

“We also surprisingly found that 33% of [radiation facilities] in the initial 2005 database did not exist in our updated database, but this may reflect methodological circumstances rather than rapid movement of facilities,” Maroongroge said.

“Overall, we found that the growth in radiation treatment facilities during the past 15 years roughly mirrors the growth in treated cases during this time period, for an approximate 1.2% annual growth rate,” Maroongroge said. “Our findings raise the question of whether our resources are being allocated appropriately or if we need to do more to increase access for patients farthest away from treatment facilities. Our findings are consistent with recent reports looking at where radiation oncologists are located, which suggests that there is substantial variation in access to radiation therapy depending upon where one resides in the United States.”