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Increase in Hypofractionated Radiation Therapy Among Patients with Invasive Breast Cancer or Ductal Carcinoma In Situ: Who is Left Behind?

PURPOSE: We aimed to update the trend of hypofractionated whole-breast irradiation (HF-WBI) use over time in the US and examine factors associated with lack of HF-WBI adoption for patients with early-stage invasive breast cancer (IBC) or ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) undergoing a lumpectomy.

METHODS AND MATERIALS: Among patients who underwent a lumpectomy, we identified 928,034 patients with early-stage IBC and 330,964 patients with DCIS in the 2004 to 2020 National Cancer Database. We defined HF-WBI as 2.5-3.33 Gy/fraction to the breast and conventionally fractionated WBI as 1.8-2.0 Gy/fraction. We evaluated the trend of HF-WBI utilization using a generalized linear model with the log link and binomial distribution. Factors associated with HF-WBI utilization were assessed using multivariable logistic regression in patients diagnosed between 2018 and 2020.

RESULTS: Among patients with IBC, HF-WBI use has significantly increased from 0.7% in 2004 to 63.9% in 2020. Similarly, HF-WBI usage among patients with DCIS has also increased significantly from 0.4% in 2004 to 56.6% in 2020. Black patients with IBC were less likely than White patients to receive HF-WBI (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 0.81; 95% CI, 0.77-0.85). Community cancer programs were less likely to administer HF-WBI to patients with IBC (AOR, 0.80; 95% CI, 0.77-0.84) and to those with DCIS (AOR, 0.87; 95% CI, 0.79-0.96) than academic/research programs. Younger age, positive nodes, larger tumor size, low volume programs, and facility location were also associated with lack of HF-WBI adoption in both patient cohorts.

CONCLUSIONS: HF-WBI utilization among postlumpectomy patients has significantly increased from 2004 to 2020 and can finally be considered standard of care in the US. We found substantial disparities in adoption within patient and facility subgroups. Reducing disparities in HF-WBI adoption has the potential to further alleviate health care costs while improving patients' quality of life.

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