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Abstract

The delivery of treatment for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) could be influenced by the place of HCC diagnosis (hospitalization versus outpatient), subspecialty referral following diagnosis, as well as physician and facility factors. We conducted a study to examine the effect of patient and nonpatient factors on the place of HCC diagnosis, referral, and treatment in Veterans Administration (VA) hospitals in the United States. Using the VA Hepatitis C Clinical Case Registry, we identified hepatitis C virus (HCV)-infected patients who developed HCC during 1998-2006. All cases were verified and staged according to Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer (BCLC) criteria. The main outcomes were place of HCC diagnosis, being seen by a surgeon or oncologist, and treatment. We examined factors related to these outcomes using hierarchical logistic regression. These factors included HCC stage, HCC surveillance, physician specialty, and facility factors, in addition to risk factors, comorbidity, and liver disease indicators. Approximately 37.2% of the 1,296 patients with HCC were diagnosed during hospitalization, 31.0% were seen by a surgeon or oncologist, and 34.3% received treatment. Being seen by a surgeon or oncologist was associated with surveillance (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 1.47; 95% CI: 1.20-1.80) and varied by geography (1.74;1.09-2.77). Seeing a surgeon or oncologist was predictive of treatment (aOR = 1.43; 95% CI: 1.24-1.66). There was a significant increase in treatment among patients who received surveillance (aOR = 1.37; 95% CI: 1.02-1.71), were seen by gastroenterology (1.65;1.21-2.24), or were diagnosed at a transplant facility (1.48;1.15-1.90). Conclusion: Approximately 40% of patients were diagnosed during hospitalization. Most patients were not seen by a surgeon or oncologist for treatment evaluation and only 34% received treatment. Only receipt of HCC surveillance was associated with increased likelihood of outpatient diagnosis, being seen by a surgeon or oncologist, and treatment. (HEPATOLOGY 2013;)