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Surgery and surgical consult rates for early stage lung cancer in Ontario: a population-based study


Background — Surgery offers the best chance for survival for early (stage I and II) non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), but worldwide resection rates range from 49% to 77%. We investigated factors that may play a role in resection rates.

Methods — Using administrative data, new diagnoses of NSCLC from 2010 through 2012 were captured. The rate of surgical consultation and resection overall and by age group were determined, as well as rates of pulmonary function testing and radiation therapy.

Results — Of 4,309 persons diagnosed with stage I or II NSCLC between 2010 and 2012, 3,487 (80.9%) received surgical consultations, but only 58.9% (2,539) received surgery. Rates of consultation and surgery decreased with increasing patient age: only 60.3% of patients older than 80 received consultations and 29.9% had resections. Of the 1,770 patients who did not receive surgery, 948 (53.6%) received a surgical consultation, and in this group, 688 (72.5%) were treated with radiation. Of the 822 patients who did not see a surgeon, only 476 (57.9%) were treated with radiation. Pulmonary function testing was performed in 799 (84.3%) of patients who had surgical consults but in only 569 (69.2%) of those who did not see a surgeon.

Conclusions — Resection rates for early lung cancer appear low, which may be partly due to low rates of surgical consultation. Interestingly, patients who are seen by surgeons but who do not receive surgery are more likely to receive radiation than patients who are not referred for surgery. Further research is required to identify factors influencing resection rates.



Bendzsak AM, Waddell TK, Urbach DR, Darling GE. Ann Thorac Surg. 2017; 103(3):906-10. Epub 2016 Dec 7.

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