Tumor Board Participation Among Physicians Caring for Patients with Lung or Colorectal Cancer

Published in: Journal of Oncology Practice, v. 11, no. 3, May 2015, p. e267-e278

Posted on RAND.org on May 29, 2015

by Kenneth L. Kehl, Mary Beth Landrum, Katherine L. Kahn, Stacy W. Gray, Aileen B. Chen, Nancy L. Keating

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PURPOSE: Multidisciplinary tumor board meetings are common in cancer care, but limited evidence is available about their benefits. We assessed the associations of tumor board participation and structure with care delivery and patient outcomes. METHODS: As part of the CanCORS study, we surveyed 1,601 oncologists and surgeons about participation in tumor boards and specific tumor board features. Among 4,620 patients with lung or colorectal cancer diagnosed from 2003 to 2005 and seen by 1,198 of these physicians, we assessed associations of tumor board participation with patient survival, clinical trial enrollment, guideline-recommended care, and patient-reported quality, adjusting for patient and physician characteristics. RESULTS: Weekly physician tumor board participation (v participation less often or never) was not associated with patient survival, although in exploratory subgroup analyses, weekly participation was associated with lower mortality for extensive-stage small-cell lung cancer and stage IV colorectal cancer. Patients treated by the 54% of physicians participating in tumor boards weekly (v less often or never) were more likely to enroll onto clinical trials (odds ratio [OR], 1.6; 95% CI, 1.1 to 2.2). Patients with stage I to II non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose physicians participated in tumor boards weekly were more likely to undergo curative-intent surgery (OR, 2.9; 95% CI, 1.3 to 6.8), although those with stage I to II NSCLC whose physicians' meetings reviewed > one cancer site were less likely to undergo curative-intent surgery (OR, 0.1; 95% CI, 0.03 to 0.4). CONCLUSION: Among patients with lung or colorectal cancer, frequent physician tumor board engagement was associated with patient clinical trial participation and higher rates of curative-intent surgery for stage I to II NSCLC but not with overall survival.

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