The diffusion of docetaxel in patients with metastatic prostate cancer

Joseph M. Unger, Dawn L. Hershman, Diane Martin, Ruth B. Etzioni, William E. Barlow, Michael LeBlanc, Scott R. Ramsey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: Diffusion of new cancer treatments can be both inefficient and incomplete. The uptake of new treatments over time (diffusion) has not been well studied. We analyzed the diffusion of docetaxel in metastatic prostate cancer. Methods: We identified metastatic prostate cancer patients diagnosed from 1995 to 2007 using the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program (SEER)-Medicare database. Medicare claims through 2008 were analyzed. We assessed cumulative incidence of docetaxel by socioeconomic, demographic, and comorbidity variables, and compared diffusion patterns to landmark events including release of phase III results and FDA approval dates. We compared docetaxel diffusion patterns in prostate cancer to those in metastatic breast, lung, ovarian, and gastric cancers. To model docetaxel use over time, we used the classic "mixed influence" deterministic diffusion model. All statistical tests were two-sided. Results: We identified 6561 metastatic prostate cancer patients; 1350 subsequently received chemotherapy. Among patients who received chemotherapy, docetaxel use was 95% by 2008. Docetaxel uptake was statistically significantly slower (P <. 01) for patients older than 65 years, blacks, patients in lower income areas, and those who experienced poverty. Eighty percent of docetaxel diffusion occurred prior to the May, 2004 release of phase III results showing superiority of docetaxel over standard-of-care. The maximum increase in the rate of use of docetaxel occurred nearly simultaneously for prostate cancer as for all other cancers combined (in 2000). Conclusion: Efforts to increase the diffusion of treatments with proven survival benefits among disadvantaged populations could lead to cancer population survival gains. Docetaxel diffusion mostly preceded phase III evidence for its efficacy in castration-resistant prostate cancer, and appeared to be a cancer-wide - rather than a disease-specific - phenomenon. Diffusion prior to definitive evidence indicates the prevalence of off-label chemotherapy use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of the National Cancer Institute
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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