Study: Too many patients skip steps in lung cancer diagnosis

By AuntMinnie.com staff writers

August 6, 2015 -- Few patients suspected of having lung cancer undergo all three staging tests recommended for a diagnosis, concludes a new study in the Annals of Thoracic Surgery. Skipping steps and delaying treatment are likely associated with poorer outcomes, according to the researchers.

The study from Baptist Cancer Center and the University of Memphis in Tennessee looked at the records of 614 patients who underwent surgery for suspected lung cancer between 2009 and 2013. The researchers found that only 10% of patients had all three recommended staging tests before surgery: a CT scan, a PET/CT scan, and an invasive test (Ann Thorac Surg, August 2015, Vol. 100:2, pp. 394-400).

Among the 614 eligible patients, 98% had a preoperative CT scan, but 27% did not undergo a preoperative diagnostic procedure, 22% did not have a PET/CT scan, and 88% did not have an invasive staging exam. On average, it took between 1.5 months and six months for many patients to undergo surgery after an initial chest x-ray showed signs of possible lung cancer.

Treating lung cancer is complex, and key multidisciplinary specialists must be actively engaged with patients to determine the best sequence of care for each one, the researchers noted. Lung cancer care programs must chart and measure their performance in providing quality care to optimize patient survival.


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