Open Access Research article

Trends and variation in the management of oesophagogastric cancer patients: a population-based survey

Georgios Lyratzopoulos1*, Josephine M Barbiere1, Chetna Gajperia1, Michael Rhodes2, David C Greenberg3 and Karen A Wright3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine, Institute of Public Health, Forvie Site, Robinson Way, Cambridge, CB2 0SR, UK

2 Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, Colney Lane, Norwich, NR4 7UY, UK

3 Eastern Cancer Registration and Information Centre, Unit C - Magog Court, Shelford Bottom, Cambridge, CB22 3AD, UK

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BMC Health Services Research 2009, 9:231  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-9-231

Published: 15 December 2009



Previous evidence indicates potential variation in the quality of care of cancer patients. We aimed to examine whether recent changes in the treatment of oesophagogastric cancers have been distributed equally among different patient subgroups.


We analysed population-based cancer registry data about the treatment patterning of oesophagogastric cancer (other than oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma) during 1995-2006.


There were 14,077 patients aged ≥40 years (69% men). There was only limited information on stage, and no information on co-morbidity status. During successive triennia, curative surgery use decreased from 28% to 20% (p < 0.001) whilst chemotherapy use increased from 9% to 30% (p < 0.001). Use of palliative surgery and of radiotherapy increased significantly but modestly (7% to 10%, and 9% to 11%, respectively). In multivariable logistic regression adjusting for age group, gender, diagnosis period and tumour type, curative surgery and chemotherapy were used less frequently in more deprived patients [per increasing deprivation group Odds Ratio (OR) = 0.96, 95% Confidence Interval (CI) 0.93-0.99, and OR = 0.90, 95%CI 0.87-0.93, respectively, p < 0.001 for both)]. Chemotherapy was also used less frequently in women (OR = 0.76, p < 0.001).


During the study period, curative surgery decreased by a third and chemotherapy use increased by more than three-fold, reflecting improvements in the appropriateness and quality of management, but chemotherapy use, in particular, was unequal, both by socioeconomic status and gender.