Incidence and survival analyses for occult lung cancer between 2004 and 2015: a population-based study

BMC Cancer. 2021 Sep 9;21(1):1009. doi: 10.1186/s12885-021-08741-4.


Background: This study aimed to investigate the incidence and long-term survival outcomes of occult lung cancer between 2004 and 2015.

Methods: A total of 2958 patients were diagnosed with occult lung cancer in the 305,054 patients with lung cancer. The entire cohort was used to calculate the crude incidence rate. Eligible 52,472 patients (T1-xN0M0, including 2353 occult lung cancers) were selected from the entire cohort to perform survival analyses after translating T classification according to the 8th TNM staging system. Cancer-specific survival curves for different T classifications were presented.

Results: The crude incidence rate of occult lung cancer was 1.00 per 100 patients, and it was reduced between 2004 and 2015 [1.4 per 100 persons in 2004; 0.6 per 100 persons in 2015; adjusted risk ratio = 0.437, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.363-0.527]. In the survival analysis, there were 2206 death events in the 2353 occult lung cancers. The results of the multivariable analysis revealed that the prognoses with occult lung cancer were similar to patients with stage T3N0M0 (adjusted hazard ratio = 1.054, 95% CI 0.986-1.127, p = 0.121). Adjusted survival curves presented the same results. In addition, adjusted for other confounders, female, age ≤ 72 years, surgical treatment, radiotherapy, adenocarcinoma, and non-squamous and non-adenocarcinoma non-small cell carcinoma were independent protective prognostic factors (all p < 0.05).

Conclusions: Occult lung cancer was uncommon. However, the cancer-specific survival of occult lung cancer was poor, therefore, we should put the assessment of its prognoses on the agenda. Timely surgical treatment and radiotherapy could improve survival outcomes for those patients. Besides, we still need more research to confirm those findings.

Keywords: And end results database; Epidemiology; Incidence; Occult lung cancer; Surveillance; Survival.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / epidemiology*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / mortality*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / therapy
  • China / epidemiology
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Lung Neoplasms / therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • SEER Program / statistics & numerical data*
  • Survival Rate
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult