Use of palliative radiotherapy among patients with metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer in Puerto Rico

BMC Palliat Care. 2021 Aug 13;20(1):127. doi: 10.1186/s12904-021-00819-x.


Background: Palliative radiotherapy (RT) represents an important treatment opportunity for improving the quality of life in metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients through the management of symptoms within the course of the illness. The aim of the study is to determine the proportion of patients who had palliative RT within 12 months of diagnosis and evaluate the factors associated with it.

Methods: A retrospective cohort study was performed using secondary data analysis from 2009 to 2015 from the Puerto Rico Central Cancer Registry-Health Insurance Linkage Database (PRCCR-HILD). A logistic regression model was used to examine factors associated with palliative RT.

Results: Among the 929 patients identified with metastatic NSCLC, 33.80% received palliative RT within the first year after diagnosis. After adjusting for other covariates, receipt of chemotherapy (ORAdj = 3.90; 95% CI = 2.91-5.45; P < 0.001) and presence of symptoms (ORAdj = 1.41; 95% CI =1.00-1.98; P = 0.045) were associated with increased odds of palliative RT use. Although marginally significant, patients with private health insurance had increased odds of palliative RT use (ORAdj = 1.50; 95% CI = 0.98-2.29; P = 0.061) when compared to beneficiaries of Medicaid, after adjusting by other covariates.

Conclusions: The results of this study reveal concerning underuse of palliative RT among patients with metastatic NSCLC in Puerto Rico. Additional research is necessary to further understand the barriers to using palliative RT on the island.

Keywords: Non-small cell lung cancer; Puerto Rico; Use of palliative radiotherapy.

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung* / radiotherapy
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms* / radiotherapy
  • Palliative Care
  • Puerto Rico
  • Quality of Life
  • Retrospective Studies