Geographic and sociodemographic access to systemic anticancer therapies for secondary breast cancer: a systematic review

Sally Anne Pearson, Sally Taylor, Antonia Marsden, Jessica Dalton O’Reilly, Ashma Krishan, Sacha Howell, Janelle Yorke

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The review aimed to investigate geographic and sociodemographic factors associated with receipt of systemic anticancer therapies (SACT) for women with secondary (metastatic) breast cancer (SBC). Methods: Included studies reported geographic and sociodemographic factors associated with receipt of treatment with SACT for women > 18 years with an SBC diagnosis. Information sources searched were Ovid CINAHL, Ovid MEDLINE, Ovid Embase and Ovid PsychINFO. Assessment of methodological quality was undertaken using the Joanna Briggs Institute method. Findings were synthesised using a narrative synthesis approach. Results: Nineteen studies published between 2009 and 2023 were included in the review. Overall methodological quality was assessed as low to moderate. Outcomes were reported for treatment receipt and time to treatment. Overall treatment receipt ranged from 4% for immunotherapy treatment in one study to 83% for systemic anticancer therapies (unspecified). Time to treatment ranged from median 54 days to 95 days with 81% of patients who received treatment < 60 days. Younger women, women of White origin, and those women with a higher socioeconomic status had an increased likelihood of timely treatment receipt. Treatment receipt varied by geographical region, and place of care was associated with variation in timely receipt of treatment with women treated at teaching, research and private institutions being more likely to receive treatment in a timely manner. Conclusions: Treatment receipt varied depending upon type of SACT. A number of factors were associated with treatment receipt. Barriers included older age, non-White race, lower socioeconomic status, significant comorbidities, hospital setting and geographical location. Findings should however be interpreted with caution given the limitations in overall methodological quality of included studies and significant heterogeneity in measures of exposure and outcome. Generalisability was limited due to included study populations. Findings have practical implications for the development and piloting of targeted interventions to address specific barriers in a socioculturally sensitive manner. Addressing geographical variation and place of care may require intervention at a commissioning policy level. Further qualitative research is required to understand the experience and of women and clinicians.

Original languageEnglish
Article number35
JournalSystematic Reviews
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2024
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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