Objectives: Hospital case volume has been shown to be a predictor of patient mortality for treatment for various cancers. The influence of hospital case volume on malignant melanoma survival and treatment utilization is unknown.
Methods: We used the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results-Medicare linked databases to identify patients aged 65 years or older diagnosed with metastatic melanoma between 2000 and 2009. We analyzed claims data to ascertain cancer treatment variation by hospital case volume. Overall survival was evaluated using propensity score methods.
Results: Among 1438 patients, 612 (42.6%) were treated in low-volume hospitals (<=5 patients) after receiving their diagnosis, 479 (33.3%) were treated in intermediate-volume hospitals (6 to 10 patients), and 347 (24.1%) were treated in high-volume hospitals (>10 patients). In Cox proportional hazards models, treatment in a high-volume hospital after propensity score adjustment was associated with a significant improvement in survival when adjusting for other characteristics (intermediate volume: hazard ratio [HR]=0.70, P=0.0007; high volume: HR=0.63, P<0.0001). Patients treated in high-volume hospitals were less likely to receive chemotherapy, surgery, and/or radiation therapy after a metastatic melanoma diagnosis.
Conclusions: For patients diagnosed with metastatic melanoma, being treated in a high-volume hospital was associated with an improvement in survival and lower utilization of chemotherapy, immunotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy.
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