Poor adherence to quality indicators found for NSCLC surgery




PHOENIX – National adherence to quality indicators for surgery in stage I non–small cell lung cancer is suboptimal, results from a large analysis of national data suggest.

“Compliance with such guidelines is a strong predictor of long-term survival, and vigorous efforts should be instituted at the level of national societies to improve such adherence,” researchers led by Dr. Pamela P. Samson wrote in an abstract presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons. “National organizations, including American College of Chest Physicians, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, and the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer, have recommended quality standards for surgery in early-stage non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The determinants and outcomes of adherence to these guidelines for early-stage lung cancer patients are largely unknown.”

Dr. Samson, a general surgery resident at Washington University in St. Louis, and her associates used the National Cancer Data Base to evaluate data from 146,908 patients undergoing surgery for clinical stage I NSCLC between 2004 and 2013. They selected the following four quality measures for evaluation: performing an anatomical pulmonary resection, surgery within 8 weeks of diagnosis, R0 resection, and evaluation of 10 or more lymph nodes. Next, the researchers fitted multivariate models to identify variables independently associated with adherence to quality measures, and created a Cox multivariate model to evaluate long-term overall survival.

Dr. Varun Puri, senior author of the study, presented the findings at the STS meeting on behalf of Dr. Samson, and discussed the findings in a video interview. The researchers found that between 2004 and 2013, nearly 100% of patients met at least one of the four recommended criteria, 95% met two, 69% met three, and 22% met all four. Sampling of 10 or more lymph nodes was the least frequently met measure, occurring in only 31% of surgical patients. Patient factors associated with a greater likelihood of receiving all four quality measures included average income in ZIP code of at least $38,000 (odds ratio, 1.20), private insurance (OR, 1.22), or having Medicare (OR, 1.16). Institutional factors associated with a greater likelihood of meeting all four quality measures included higher-volume centers, defined as treating at least 38 cases per year (OR, 1.18), or being an academic institution (OR, 1.31).

At the same time, factors associated with a lower likelihood of recommended surgical care included increasing age (per year increase, OR, 0.99) and a higher Charlson/Deyo comorbidity score (OR, 0.90 for a score of 1 and OR, 0.82 for a score of 2 or more). The strongest determinant of long-term overall survival included pathologic upstaging (HR 1.84) and meeting all four quality indicators (HR 0.39). Every additional quality met was associated with a significant reduction in overall mortality.

“We believe this study can be a starting point to draw attention to institution- and surgeon-specific practice patterns that may vary widely,” Dr. Samson said in an interview prior to the meeting. “At our own institution, we are working to decrease time to surgery, as well as implementing quality improvement measures to increase nodal sampling rates. Improving these trends nationally must start at the local level, with a tailored approach.”

Dr. Samson is currently supported by a T32 NIH training grant for research fellows in cardiothoracic surgery. Study coauthor Dr. Bryan Meyers, has received honoraria from Varian Medical Systems and is a consultant/advisory board member of Ethicon. Senior author Dr. Varun Puri is supported by NIH career awards.

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