This study examined whether patterns of post-mastectomy radiotherapy (PMRT) among women with early invasive breast cancer (EIBC) varied within England and Wales and explored the role of different patient factors in explaining any variation.
Materials and methods
The study used national cancer data on women aged ≥50 years diagnosed with EIBC (stage I–IIIa) in England and Wales between January 2014 and December 2018 who had a mastectomy within 12 months of diagnosis. A multilevel mixed-effects logistic regression model was used to calculate risk-adjusted rates of PMRT for geographical regions and National Health Service acute care organisations. The study examined the variation in these rates within subgroups of women with different risks of recurrence (low: T1-2N0; intermediate: T3N0/T1-2N1; high: T1-2N2/T3N1-2) and investigated whether the variation was linked to patient case-mix within regions and organisations.
Among 26 228 women, use of PMRT increased with greater recurrence risk (low: 15.0%; intermediate: 59.4%; high: 85.1%). In all risk groups, use of PMRT was more common among women who had received chemotherapy and decreased among women aged ≥80 years. There was weak or no evidence of an association between use of PMRT and comorbidity or frailty, for each risk group. In women with an intermediate risk, unadjusted rates of PMRT varied substantially between geographical regions (range 40.3–77.3%), but varied less for the high-risk (range 77.1–91.6%) and low-risk groups (range 4.1–32.9%). Adjusting for patient case-mix reduced the variation in regional and organisational PMRT rates to a small degree.
Rates of PMRT are consistently high across England and Wales among women with high-risk EIBC, but variation exists across regions and organisations for women with intermediate-risk EIBC. Effort is required to reduce unwarranted variation in practice for intermediate-risk EIBC.