Purpose The survival impact of geographic access to specialized care remains unknown in patients with soft-tissue sarcomas (STS). This study aimed to clarify the association between the patient travel distance and survival outcome and investigate the factors lying behind it. Methods A total of 34 528 patients with STS registered in the National Cancer Data Base, diagnosed from 2004-2016, were investigated. Results Tumor stage correlated with travel distance: patients with metastatic disease stayed closer to home. However, the type of facility showed greatest variation: 37.0%, 51.0%, 73.5%, and 75.9% of patients with ?10 miles, 10.1-50 miles, 50.1-100 miles, and >100 miles, respectively (P<0.001), had a sarcoma care at academic/research centers. On a multivariable analysis, reduced mortality risk was associated with longer (versus short) travel distance (>100 miles: HR = 0.877; P = 0.001) and management at academic/research (versus nonacademic/ research) centers (HR = 0.857; P<0.001). The greatest divergence was seen in patients traveling very long distance (>100 miles) to an academic/research center, with a 26.9% survival benefit (HR = 0.731; P<0.001), compared with those traveling short distance (?10 miles; 95.4% living in metropolitan area) to a non-academic/research center. There was no significant correlation between travel distance and survival in patients who had care at academic/research centers, whereas a survival benefit of management at academic/ research centers was observed in every group of travel distance, regardless of tumor stage. Conclusions This national study demonstrated that increased travel distance was associated with superior survival, attributable to a higher proportion of patients receiving sarcoma care at distant academic/research centers. These data support centralized care for STS. Overcoming referral and travel barriers may enable more patients to be treated at specialized centers and may further improve survival rates for patients with STS, even when it imposes an increased travel burden.
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