Background: Over the past decade, well tolerated second-line therapies for advanced non-small-cell lung cancer have been approved including erlotinib and pemetrexed in addition to docetaxel. We hypothesize that the introduction of less toxic chemotherapy has increased treatment of advanced non-small-cell lung cancer resulting in improved survival.
Methods: The BC Cancer Agency provides cancer care to 4.5 million. A retrospective review was conducted of all referred Stage IIIB/IV patients in four 1-year time cohorts; C1 baseline (1998) and 6 months after the provincial approval of C2 docetaxel (2001), C3 erlotinib (2006), and C4 pemetrexed (2007).
Results: Two-thousand six-hundred and twenty-three patients were referred and 720 had systemic therapy. Characteristics: M/F 55%/45%, median age 67 (33-101), ECOG PS <=1/>=2/unknown 33%/56%/11%, squam/nonsquam/NOS 18%/41%/41%. More patients received first-line chemotherapy over time; 16%, 23%, 34%, and 33% C1-C4 respectively. In C1-C4 uptake of second line (21%, 27%, 37% and 55%) increased. Second-line docetaxel was frequently used in C2 (51%) but usage decreased in C4 to 7% versus erlotinib 50% and pemetrexed 26%. The median overall survival in the best supportive care group remained stable over time; however, increased use of systemic therapy was associated with improved survival C1 9.4 m versus C4 11.8 m (p = 0.023).
Conclusions: This population-based data set represents the trend of treatments over time at community and tertiary care cancer treatment sites. Over a 10-year period an increased proportion of patients were treated with first-line chemotherapy and an even greater number with second-/third-line treatment with an associated improvement in overall survival.