Gaps in optimal care for lung cancer

Shalini K. Vinod, Dianne L. O'Connell, Leonardo Simonella, Geoff P. Delaney, Michael Boyer, Matthew Peters, Danielle Miller, Rajah Supramaniam, Leslie McCawley, Bruce Armstrong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose:: Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in Australia, but little is known about how Australian patients with this disease are managed. Methods:: Lung cancer patients diagnosed from November 1, 2001 to December 31, 2002 were identified through the population-based New South Wales Central Cancer Registry. Information was collected on diagnosis, staging, referrals, and treatment. Cross-tabulations and logistic regression examined factors related to not receiving cancer-specific therapy. Results:: There were 2931 potentially eligible patients registered by the Central Cancer Registry and completed questionnaires were obtained for 1812 patients (62%); median age 71 years and 66% men. The pathology was non-small cell in 71%, small cell in 15% and not confirmed in 13% of patients. Eleven percent of patients did not see a lung cancer specialist and 33% received no cancer-specific therapy after initial diagnosis. Treatment utilization rates were 17% for surgery, 39% for radiotherapy, and 30% for chemotherapy. Factors significantly associated with having no cancer-specific therapy included female gender, older age, weight loss, poorer performance status, advanced or unknown disease stage, and consultation with a low patient volume lung cancer specialist or a non-lung cancer specialist. The median survival was 172 days and 2-year crude survival was 17%. Conclusions:: Treatment patterns were in broad concordance with present national guidelines. Nevertheless, a significant proportion of lung cancer patients did not receive cancer-specific therapy. Treatment decisions should be multidisciplinary and decision-makers should include experienced lung cancer specialists.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)871-879
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Thoracic Oncology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer-specific therapy.
  • Lung cancer
  • Patterns of care


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