Lung Cancer Surgery: Better Odds for Older Patients

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The overall five-year survival rate for patients in the United States with lung cancer is approximately 17 percent, according to the National Cancer Institute. Fewer than half of all patients who undergo surgery for lung cancer survive as long as five years. But new data suggest that some older lung cancer patients who have surgery may beat those odds.

Researchers linked data from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) and the General Thoracic Surgery Database (GTSD) with claims data from the Centers for Medicare and Medical Services (CMS).

The GTSD data included 37,009 records for patients 65 years of age and older who underwent lung cancer surgery between 2002 and 2012. When linked with CMS data, the researchers had access to additional information on long-term outcomes and survival from the records of 26,055 patients.

The researchers found that survival in older patients was longer than expected. The median survival following lung cancer surgery for Stage I disease was 6.7 years—nearly two years longer than the NCI’s five-year survival rate.

The five-year survival rates for selected older patients with Stage III or Stage IV lung cancer who had surgery were 29.9 percent and 26.7 percent, respectively.

Your doctor will consider many factors before recommending lung cancer surgery. These findings can help doctors and patients make more informed decisions about this treatment.

Annals of Thoracic Surgery, June 2016