Background: In comparison with other European and North American countries, England has poor survival figures for lung cancer. Our aim was to evaluate the changes in survival since the introduction of the National Lung Cancer Audit (NLCA).
Methods: We used data from the NLCA to identify people with non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and stratified people according to their performance status (PS) and clinical stage. Using Cox regression, we calculated hazard ratios (HRs) for death according to the year of diagnosis from 2004/2005 to 2010; adjusted for patient features including age, sex and co-morbidity. We also assessed whether any changes in survival were explained by the changes in surgical resection rates or histological subtype.
Results: In this cohort of 120,745 patients, the overall median survival did not change; but there was a 1% annual improvement in survival over the study period (adjusted HR 0.99, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.98-0.99). Survival improvement was only seen in patients with good PS and early stage (adjusted HR 0.97, 95% CI 0.95-0.99) and this was partly accounted for by changes in resection rates.
Conclusion: Survival has only improved for a limited group of people with NSCLC and increasing surgical resection rates appeared to explain some of this improvement.