Access to Specialist Cancer Care

Is It Equitable?

Published In: British Journal of Cancer, v. 87, no. 11, Nov. 18, 2002, p. 1221-1226

Posted on on November 01, 2002

by Emma Pitchforth, Elizabeth Russell, Marjon van der Pol

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The first principle of the Calman-Hine report's recommendations on cancer services was that all patients should have access to a uniformly high quality of care wherever they may live. This study aimed to assess whether the uptake of chemotherapy for colorectal cancer varied by hospital type in Scotland. Hospitals were classified according to cancer specialisation rather than volume of patients. To indicate cancer specialisation, hospitals were classified as 'cancer centres', 'cancer units' and 'non-cancer' hospitals. Colorectal cancer cases were obtained from cancer registrations linked to hospital discharge data for the period January 1992 to December 1996. Multilevel logistic regression was used to model the binary outcome, namely whether or not a patient received chemotherapy within 6 months of first admission to any hospital. The results showed that patients admitted first to a 'non-cancer' hospital were less than half as likely to go on to receive chemotherapy as those first admitted to a cancer unit or centre (OR=0.28). This result was not explained by distance between hospital of first admission and nearest cancer centre, nor by increasing age or severity of illness. The study covers the period immediately preceding the introduction of the Calman-Hine report in Scotland and should serve as a baseline for future monitoring of access to specialist care.

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