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J Clin Oncol. 2004 Aug 15;22(16):3261-8.

Population variations in the initial treatment of non-small-cell lung cancer.

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  • 1Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, National Cancer Institute, 6130 Executive Blvd, EPN Room 4005, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.



Dissemination of recommended therapies for non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) have not been described comprehensively. We report the patterns of initial therapy focusing on the investigation of differences in receipt of recommended therapies according to multiple clinical and nonclinical patient characteristics.


A population-based random sample of newly diagnosed NSCLC patients diagnosed in 10 separate geographic areas was collected in 1996 (n = 898). Data were obtained from medical records. Multiple logistic regression was used to assess the use of recommended therapies.


Overall, 52% of NSCLC patients received recommended therapy. Approximately 69%, 48%, and 41% of patients with stages I and II, III, or IV NSCLC received recommended therapy, respectively. For all stages combined, the use of recommended therapy was significantly inversely associated with age and stage at diagnosis. Recommended therapy also was more common in white versus black patients, and in married versus single patients. Stage-specific analyses revealed a significant decline in the use of recommended surgery with increasing age at diagnosis for early-stage NSCLC only, and a significantly lower use of recommended therapy (primarily chemoradiotherapy) for stage III black and Hispanic patients compared with white patients.


The overall use of recommended therapies for NSCLC is low. Large variations exist in the use of such therapies according to age, race or ethnicity, and marital status. Research combining medical record reviews with other sources of data is needed to better understand the contributions of both patient preferences and physician judgment to these treatment variations.

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