Background: Medical centers with varying levels of expertise treat gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (GEP-NETs), which are relatively rare tumors. This study assesses the impact of center volume on GEP-NET treatment outcomes. Methods: We used the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) registry linked to Medicare claims data. The data includes patients diagnosed between 1995 and 2010 who had no health maintenance organization (HMO) coverage, participated in Medicare parts A and B, were older than 65 at diagnosis, had tumor differentiation information, and had no secondary cancer. We identified medical centers at which patients received GEP-NET treatment (surgery, chemotherapy, somatostatin analogues, or radiation therapy) using Medicare claims data. Center volume was divided into 3 tiers – low, medium, and high – based on the number of unique GEP-NET patients treated by a medical center over 2 years. We used Kaplan-Meier curves and Cox regression to assess the association between volume and disease-specific survival. Results: We identified 899 GEP-NET patients, of whom 37, 45, and 18% received treatment at low, medium volume, and high-volume centers, respectively. Median disease-specific survival for patients at low and medium tiers were 1.4 years and 5.3 years, respectively, but was not reached for patients at high volume centers. Results showed that patients treated at high volume centers had better survival than those treated in low volume centers (HR: 0.63, 95% CI: 0.4–0.9), but showed no difference in outcomes between medium and high-volume centers. Conclusions: Our results suggest that for these increasingly common tumors, referral to a tertiary care center may be indicated. Physicians caring for GEP-NET patients should consider early referral to high volume centers.
- Carcinoid tumors
- Center volume
- Gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors
- SEER Medicare
- Volume study