Treatment Recommendations for Locally Advanced, Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer: The Influence of Physician and Patient Factors

Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.
International journal of radiation oncology, biology, physics (Impact Factor: 4.26). 05/2009; 74(5):1376-84. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2008.10.066
Source: PubMed


To determine the impact of patient age, comorbidity, and physician factors on treatment recommendations for locally advanced, unresectable non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
We surveyed radiation oncologists regarding their recommendations for treatment (chemoradiation, radiation alone, chemotherapy alone, or no therapy) for hypothetical patients with Stage IIIB NSCLC who varied by age (55 vs. 80 years) and comorbid illness (none, moderate, or severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD]). Multinomial logistic regression was used to assess the impact of physician and practice characteristics on radiation oncologists' treatment recommendations for three scenarios with the least agreement.
Of 214 radiation oncologists, nearly all (99%) recommended chemoradiation for a healthy 55 year old. However, there was substantial variability in recommendations for a 55 year old with severe COPD, an 80-year-old with moderate COPD, and an 80-year-old with severe COPD. Physicians seeing a lower volume of lung cancer patients were statistically less likely to recommend radiotherapy for younger or older patients with severe COPD (both p < 0.05), but the impact was modest.
Nearly all radiation oncologists report following the evidence-based recommendation of chemoradiation for young, otherwise healthy patients with locally advanced, unresectable NSCLC, but there is substantial variability in treatment recommendations for older or sicker patients, probably related to the lack of clinical trial data for such patients. The physician and practice characteristics we examined only weakly affected treatment recommendations. Additional clinical trial data are necessary to guide recommendations for treatment of elderly patients and patients with poor pulmonary function to optimize their management.

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Available from: Joel E Tepper
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