Average treatment effect of facility hepatopancreatobiliary malignancy case volume on survival of patients with nonoperatively managed hepatobiliary malignancies

Published:November 17, 2022DOI:



      Surgical volume-outcome relationships have been described for a variety of procedures. There is scant literature on total institutional volume and outcomes in patients who are nonoperatively managed. We examined the average treatment effect of total hepatopancreatobiliary malignancy case volume on survival outcomes of patients with nonresected hepatobiliary malignancies.


      We identified patients with hepatopancreatobiliary malignancies [pancreatic adenocarcinoma, pancreatic neuroendocrine neoplasms, hepatocellular carcinoma, biliary tract cancers] within the National Cancer Database (2004–2018). We determined percentile thresholds based on the total annual hepatopancreatobiliary malignancy case volume. We then identified nonoperatively managed patients with hepatocellular carcinoma or biliary tract cancers. We used inverse probability-weighted Cox regression to estimate the effect of facility volume on overall survival.


      We identified 710,988 patients with hepatopancreatobiliary malignancies. Total annual hepatopancreatobiliary malignancy case volume of 32, 71, and 177 cases/year corresponded to the 25th, 50th, and 75th percentiles. A total of 96,420 with hepatocellular carcinoma and 52,627 patients with biliary tract cancers were managed nonoperatively. In patients with hepatocellular carcinoma or biliary tract cancer, treatment at ≥25th, ≥50th, and ≥75th percentile facilities was associated with improved median, 1-, 2-, and 3-year overall survival compared with treatment at lower-percentile facilities. On inverse probability–weighted Cox analysis, treatment at higher-percentile facilities resulted in a lower hazard of death. Consistent findings were observed in patients with early or intermediate/advanced hepatocellular carcinoma or metastatic biliary tract cancers.


      Patients with nonoperatively managed hepatocellular carcinoma or biliary tract cancer who receive treatment at higher-volume facilities have improved survival outcomes. These data suggest regionalization of care for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma or biliary tract cancer to high-volume centers may improve survival.
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