Postoperative follow-up for patients with non-small cell lung cancer.
ABSTRACT It is unclear whether postoperative follow-up by thoracic surgeons or chest physicians for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) alters survival.
The charts of 1,398 NSCLC patients, diagnosed between 1980 and 2008, were reviewed. Prognostic factors contained therein were evaluated using univariate and multivariate analyses. Patients were divided into 2 groups according to the doctor in charge of their postoperative follow-up: the thoracic surgeon group and the chest physician group. The doctors in charge of following up the patients were also analyzed for prognostic significance.
In the univariate and multivariate analyses, age 65 years or younger, female sex, early pathological stage, Charlson Index score of 0-1, absence of adjuvant therapy, and follow-up by a chest physician were significantly favorable prognostic factors. Examined overall, NSCLC patients in the chest physician group had longer survival than those in the thoracic surgeon group. The difference in survival of patients with advanced disease was also statistically significant between these 2 groups.
Our results indicate that early detection of asymptomatic disease by regular follow-up including chest computed tomography scan may improve the chance of treatment with curative intent and thus may increase survival, irrespective of the doctor in charge of follow-up.