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Temporal trends of healthcare system use between symptomatic presentation and ovarian cancer diagnosis in the United States


Objective To describe trends in healthcare system use over time between onset of classic ovarian cancer symptoms and ovarian cancer diagnosis in the United States.

Methods A population-based study of the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results-Medicare database was conducted on patients aged ≥66 years with stage II–IV epithelial ovarian cancer between 1992 and 2015 with at least one of the following diagnosis codes: abdominal pain, bloating, difficulty eating, and/or urinary symptoms. The outcomes were frequency of visit type, frequency of diagnostic modality, and Medicare reimbursement between first symptomatic claim and cancer diagnosis. Jonckheere-Terpstra and Cochran-Armitage tests were used to evaluate trends over time.

Results Among 13 872 women, 13 541 (97.6%) had outpatient, 6466 (46.6%) had inpatient, and 4906 (35.4%) had emergency room visits. The frequency of outpatient (p<0.001) and emergency room visits (p<0.001) increased while the frequency of inpatient visits (p<0.001) decreased between 1992 and 2015. The median number of outpatient visits (p<0.001) and physician specialties seen (p<0.001) increased over time. The median hospital length of stay decreased from 10 days in 1992 to 5 days in 2015 (p<0.001). Between 1992 and 2015, the frequency of ultrasound decreased (p<0.001) while the frequency of computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, positron emission tomography imaging, and cancer antigen 125 tumor immunoassay increased (p<0.001). Median monthly total (p<0.001), inpatient (p<0.001), and outpatient (p=0.006) reimbursements decreased while emergency room reimbursements increased (p<0.001) over time.

Conclusion Healthcare reimbursement between symptomatic presentation and ovarian cancer diagnosis has decreased over time and may reflect the trends in fewer and shorter hospitalizations and increased use of emergency and outpatient management during the evaluation of symptoms of women with ovarian cancer.

  • ovarian cancer
  • gynecology

Data availability statement

No data are available.

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