Biopsy of suspected pancreatic cancer (PDAC) in surgical candidates is informative however not always necessary. Biopsies impact treatment options as histological diagnosis are presently required for neo-adjuvant therapy, but not surgical resection. We explored the impact of pursuing tissue diagnosis by endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) biopsy on time to treatment in patients with resectable and borderline resectable PDAC.
A retrospective review of surgical patients with ultimately proven PDAC was performed (2011–2021). Milestone dates (cancer suspected, biopsy(ies), surgical or neo-adjuvant treatment) were collected. Mann–Whitney-Wilcoxon tests, Pearson’s chi-squared tests, Fisher’s exact tests, linear regressions, and Cox proportional hazard models were used for data analysis.
Among 131 resectable and 58 borderline resectable patients, the borderline resectable group underwent more biopsies (1.2 vs 0.7, p < 0.0001), were more likely to undergo biopsy at tertiary care centers (67.2% vs 30.5%, p < 0.0001), and trended toward longer time to treatment (49 vs 44 days, p = 0.070). Significant increases in days to treatment were seen in patients with Black race (29 days, p = 0.0002) and Medicare insurance (22 days, p = 0.038) and no biopsies at a tertiary care center (10 days, p = 0.039). After adjusting for covariates, additional biopsies significantly delayed treatment (1 biopsy: 21 days, p = 0.0001; 2 biopsies: 44 days, p < 0.0001; 3 biopsies: 68 days, p < 0.0001).
EUS biopsy significantly impacts time between suspicion and treatment of PDAC. This may be exacerbated by clinical practices increasingly favoring neo-adjuvant therapy that necessitates biopsy-proven disease. Time to treatment may also be impacted by access to tertiary centers and racial disparities.