Open Access Open Badges Research article

Organizing medical oncology care at a regional level and its subsequent impact on the quality of early breast cancer management: a before-after study

Aline Voidey1*, Xavier Pivot2, Anne-Sophie Woronoff3, Gilles Nallet4, Laurent Cals5, Francis Schwetterle6 and Samuel Limat1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pharmacy, Jean Minjoz University Hospital, 2 boulevard Fleming, 25000 Besançon, France

2 Department of Medical Oncology, Jean Minjoz University Hospital, 2 boulevard Fleming, 25000 Besançon, France

3 Doubs and Belfort Territory Cancer Registry, Jean Minjoz University Hospital, 2 boulevard Fleming, 25000 Besançon, France

4 IRFC-FC, Jean Minjoz University Hospital, 2 boulevard Fleming, 25000 Besançon, France

5 Department of Medical Oncology, Belfort-Montbéliard Hospital, 14 rue de Mulhouse, 90016 Belfort, France

6 Department of Gynecology, Lons le Saunier Hospital, 55 rue du Dr Jean-Michel, 39016 Lons-Le-Saunier, France

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BMC Health Services Research 2014, 14:326  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-326

Published: 28 July 2014



One of the main measures of the French national cancer plan is to encourage physicians to work collectively, and to minimize territorial inequities in access to care by rethinking the geographical distribution of oncologists. For this reason, cancer care services are currently being reorganized at national level. A new infrastructure for multidisciplinary cancer care delivery has been put in place in our region. Patients can receive multidisciplinary health care services nearer their homes, thanks to a mobile team of oncologists. The objective of our study was to assess, using a quality approach, the impact on medical management and on the costs of treating early breast cancer, of the new regional structure for cancer care delivery.


Before-and-after study performed from 2007 to 2010, including patients treated for early breast cancer in three hospitals in the region of Franche-Comté in Eastern France. The main outcome measures were quality criteria, namely delayed treatment (>12 weeks), dose-intensity and assessment of adjuvant chemotherapy. Other outcomes were 24-month progression-free survival (PFS) and economic evaluation.


This study included 667 patients. The rate of chemotherapy tended to decrease, but not significantly (49.3% before versus 42.2% after, p=0.07), while the use of taxanes increased by 38% across all centres (59.6% before versus 98.0% after, p < 0.0001). There was a non-significant reduction in the time between surgery and adjuvant chemotherapy (6.0 ± 3.0 weeks before versus 5.6 ± 3.6 weeks after, p=0.11). Dose-dense chemotherapy improved slightly, albeit non significantly (86.3% versus 91.1% p=0.22) and time to treatment tended to decrease. The new regional infrastructure did not change 24-month PFS, which remained at about 96%. The average cost of treatment was estimated at €7000, with no difference between the two periods.


Despite a shortage of oncologists, the new organization put in place in our region for the provision of care for early breast cancer makes it possible to maintain local community-based treatment, without negative economic consequences. This new structure for cancer care delivery offers cancer services of similar quality with no modification of 24-month PFS in early breast cancer.

Breast cancer; Quality measurement; Regional organization; Medical management; Economic evaluation