Purpose: To determine the epidemiology, pathology and patterns of care for patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in the United States.
Methods: In 2001 the National Cancer Data Base, under direction of the American College of Surgeons, conducted a patient care evaluation study in 719 hospitals. We collected information on patient demographics and histories, diagnostic and staging methods, pathology, and initial treatment.
Results: Information on 40,909 patients was obtained; 93% were smokers. Slightly more than half were older than 70 years; 58.5% were male and 35% had adenocarcinoma. Comorbid conditions were present in 71.8% and 22% had a prior malignancy. A chest CT scan was performed in 92% of patients and PET scans in 19.3%. Mediastinoscopy was performed in 20.3%. 67.2% of patients had Stage III or IV disease. More of the Hispanic, Asian or Black patients than White had Stage IV disease (p<0.01). Treatment was multimodality in a little over 30% of patients. Surgery alone was primarily utilized for patients in Stage I or II. Choice of treatment correlated more with stage and age than comorbidities.
Conclusion: Our results substantiated the pattern of increasing proportions of women with NSCLC and the increasing frequency of adenocarcinoma. Most patients presented with Stage III or IV disease. Ethnic minorities were more likely to present in late stage disease than Whites. Treatment strategies depended more on stage and age than comorbid burden. Older patients were less likely to receive surgery and more likely to be treated with radiation only or have no treatment.