Gaps in optimal care for lung cancer

J Thorac Oncol. 2008 Aug;3(8):871-9. doi: 10.1097/JTO.0b013e31818020c3.


Purpose: Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in Australia, but little is known about how Australian patients with this disease are managed.

Methods: Lung cancer patients diagnosed from November 1, 2001 to December 31, 2002 were identified through the population-based New South Wales Central Cancer Registry. Information was collected on diagnosis, staging, referrals, and treatment. Cross-tabulations and logistic regression examined factors related to not receiving cancer-specific therapy.

Results: There were 2931 potentially eligible patients registered by the Central Cancer Registry and completed questionnaires were obtained for 1812 patients (62%); median age 71 years and 66% men. The pathology was non-small cell in 71%, small cell in 15% and not confirmed in 13% of patients. Eleven percent of patients did not see a lung cancer specialist and 33% received no cancer-specific therapy after initial diagnosis. Treatment utilization rates were 17% for surgery, 39% for radiotherapy, and 30% for chemotherapy. Factors significantly associated with having no cancer-specific therapy included female gender, older age, weight loss, poorer performance status, advanced or unknown disease stage, and consultation with a low patient volume lung cancer specialist or a non-lung cancer specialist. The median survival was 172 days and 2-year crude survival was 17%.

Conclusions: Treatment patterns were in broad concordance with present national guidelines. Nevertheless, a significant proportion of lung cancer patients did not receive cancer-specific therapy. Treatment decisions should be multidisciplinary and decision-makers should include experienced lung cancer specialists.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / therapy*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Delivery of Health Care / standards*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Lung Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Patient Care Team / standards*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Registries
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Survival Rate
  • Young Adult