Lung cancer resection rates have become more controversial as the publication of the national lung cancer audit has shown such geographical variation and then national improvement over a small number of years. This could be due to differences in patients, disease, recording of information or real differences in treatment. As well as initiatives to optimise treatments of patients after they present, there have been efforts to encourage patients to present earlier such as the national awareness early diagnosis initative.
Aim To assess if patients presenting with Lung Cancer in the Northern Trust are different in performance status or stage to those presenting a decade ago.
Methods We used previously published data (BTS, Winter 2003) to compare patients from 2001/2002 with patients from 2009/2010 (data collected from the Regional Northern Ireland Cancer Patient Pathway System). The catchment area over this ten year period had increased from 350,000 in 2001 to 450,000 in 2010 as the Causeway hospital has since been included. We compared numbers presenting, patient demographics, performance status at presentation, histology and staging.
Results and Conclusions A total of 563 patients were studied. Allowing for the change in population served by the MDT, similar numbers of patients presented each year with similar demographics. The histology of the groups was also similar however more patients are now being given a histological diagnosis rather than a clinical diagnosis. Our data also showed that patients were presenting at a statistically significant earlier stage of disease for both Small Cell Carcinoma (chi-square, p=0.0004) and Non-Small Cell Carcinoma (chi-square, p=0.01). Patient Performance Status at presentation had statistically improved between 2001 and 2010 (chi-square, p=0.01). We also found a non-significant trend of higher surgical referral rates in 2010 compared to 2001. These results may well vary with geography and might be improved by further health promotion in the future.
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