The disparity of health facilities in an urban area discourages proposed treatment application in inoperable lung cancer patients
Georgios Hillas1, Petros Bakakos2, Miltiadis Trichas3, Fotis Vlastos1
1Department of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, “Sotiria” Chest Diseases Hospital, Athens, Greece; 21st Respiratory Medicine Department, University of Athens Medical School, “Sotiria” Chest Diseases Hospital, Athens, Greece; 3Radiotherapy Department, Metropolitan Hospital, Neo Faliro, Greece
Objectives: Patients with a newly diagnosed non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) stage IIIB are offered chemoradiotherapy, as proposed by the current guidelines. This combination treatment is facilitated by the coexistence of corresponding departments in the same establishment. The geographical disparity of these health facilities influences patients’ willingness to be treated and may influence their survival. This is an observational study that compares the survival of two groups of patients with NSCLC stage IIIB: those treated with chemoradiotherapy versus those treated only with chemotherapy. These two comparable groups were formed exclusively by patients’ and/or their families’ decisions.
Methods: One hundred fifteen consecutive NSCLC stage IIIB patients were included in the study. All were hospitalized in the biggest Chest Disease Hospital in Athens and were offered sequential chemoradiotherapy. Only 54 patients opted for the proposed treatment, while 61 decided to be treated with chemotherapy only, denying continuing their treatment in another health care unit (radiotherapy). Their survival and related factors were analyzed.
Results: Mean overall survival was estimated 10 months (95% confidence interval [CI]: 7.96–12.04). Patients treated with chemoradiotherapy had almost double overall survival compared to those under chemotherapy (P = 0.001): 13.6 months (95% CI: 12.3–14.9) versus 7.5 (95% CI: 6.1–8.9). Patients aged ≤ 65 years (P < 0.001), smokers (P < 0.001), and those without a cancer history (P < 0.001) survived longer.
Conclusions: The lack of a radiotherapy department in a hospital providing chemotherapy impedes the application of current guidelines advocating combined radiochemotherapy. When recommended radiotherapy after six chemo cycles, half of the patients are unwilling to be displaced and do not follow the recommendations. This has an impact on patient survival.
Keywords: non-small cell lung cancer, survival, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, health facilities
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