Background: Compared with some European countries, England has low lung cancer survival and low use of surgical resection for lung cancer. The use of surgical resection varies within England. We assessed the relationship between surgical resection rate and the survival of lung cancer patients in England.
Methods: We extracted data on 77,349 non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients diagnosed between 2004 and 2006 from the English National Cancer Repository Dataset. We calculated the frequency of surgical resection by age, socio-economic deprivation and geographical area. We used Cox regression to compute mortality hazard ratios according to quintiles of frequency of surgical resection amongst all 77,349 lung cancer patients, and separately for the 6900 patients who underwent surgical resection.
Results: We found large geographical variation in the surgical resection rate for NSCLC in PCT areas (3-18%). A high frequency of resection was strongly inversely associated with overall mortality (HR 0.88, 95% CI 0.86-0.91 for the highest compared to the lowest resection quintile) and only moderately associated with mortality amongst the resected patients (HR 1.15, 95% CI 0.98-1.36). Compared to the highest resection quintile, 5420 deaths could be delayed in the overall NSCLC group, whereas about 146 more deaths could be expected amongst the resected patients.
Conclusion: The differences in the magnitudes of both the hazard ratios and the absolute excess deaths within resected patients and all NSCLC patients suggests that lung cancer survival in England could plausibly increase if a larger proportion of patients underwent surgical resection. Carefully designed research into the possible benefit of increasing resection rates is indicated.
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