Geographical variation in surveillance strategies after curative-intent surgery for upper aerodigestive tract cancer

Frank E. Johnson, Michael H. Johnson, Marc F. Clemente, Randal C. Paniello, Katherine S. Virgo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background: Analysis of geographical variation in utilization of medical resources is often used to identify regions of overutilization or underutilization. Methods: We surveyed the membership of the American Head and Neck Society regarding their recommended frequency of office visits and 13 imaging studies and blood tests for their patients after potentially curative therapy for upper aerodigestive tract cancers. Results: Of the 1322 members surveyed, 610 (46%) responded: 420 responses (32%) were assessable. Responses were compared by US Census Region, Metropolitan Statistical Area, and managed care organization penetration rate. Overseas members (16% of assessable responses) comprised a separate category for the regional analysis. There were statistically significant variations in practice patterns among Census Regions for office visits, complete blood count, computed tomography of the head, sonography, and esophagoscopy. Non-US members recommended significantly more blood tests, imaging studies, and endoscopy than US members for routine cancer surveillance. Only the frequency of office visits differed significantly among Metropolitan Statistical Areas. Surprisingly, the penetration rate of managed care organizations had no significant effect on posttreatment surveillance intensity. Conclusions: This analysis indicates that only a small portion of the wide variation in observed follow-up practice patterns can be explained by geographical determinants. Published by Springer Science+Business Media, Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1063-1071
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of Surgical Oncology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2006


  • Follow-up
  • Geographical variation
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Small-area analysis


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