Title

Analyzing the Time From Discovery to Definitive Surgical Therapy for Lung Cancer Based on Referral Patterns

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

8-1-2020

Journal

American journal of clinical oncology

Volume

43

Issue

8

DOI

10.1097/COC.0000000000000710

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: Surgery for early stage non-small cell lung cancer can be curative. A delay from diagnosis to surgery can lead to increased mortality. Our objective was to determine if referring patients to specialists before a thoracic surgeon caused a delay in definitive treatment. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A retrospective review was conducted of patients who had surgery for non-small cell lung cancer by a single surgeon at our institution from 2013 to 2016. Patients were divided into 2 groups: those who saw a specialist before a thoracic surgeon and patients who were referred directly to a surgeon once the pulmonary nodule was identified on computed tomography (CT). The time from initial CT to resection was compared. Secondary analysis compared private insurance versus Medicare/Medicaid. Percentage of patients upstaged was compared. RESULTS: There was no significant difference between groups when comparing time from CT to surgery (79.88 vs. 79.90 d; P=0.58). There was a significant decrease in time from CT to surgery for patients with private insurance compared with Medicare/Medicaid patients (66.05 vs. 86.99 d; P=0.03) and fewer private insurance patients were upstaged (22.9% vs. 31.8%; P=0.32). More patients who saw a different specialist first were upstaged compared with patients sent directly to thoracic surgery (32.6% vs. 22.2%; P=0.22). CONCLUSIONS: When comparing time from CT detection of a lung nodule to surgery, no significant difference was found between patients sent to nonthoracic specialists first and those referred directly to a thoracic surgeon. There was a significant decrease in time from CT to surgery for patients with private insurance compared with Medicare/Medicaid.

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