Lung cancer is the second leading cancer type, with the American Cancer Society estimating approximately 236,740 new cases in 2022.¹
With so many yearly cases, the ability for patients to receive quality care and treatment becomes that much more important. How can these patients’ needs be better met?
Listening to patients and examining whether certain factors have historically correlated with positive or negative care experiences can be a good first step in understanding how to provide better care.
Recent studies have been published about the quality of lung cancer care. What were their findings?
Patient Experiences in Lung Cancer Care
A 2022 study in Supportive Care in Cancer examined the findings of a cancer patient experience survey to identify possible patterns in patient-reported experiences of their lung cancer care.² This survey was made to gauge how patients felt about the lung cancer clinical pathway: pre-diagnosis care, diagnosis, treatment information, and staff support.
Of the nearly 16,000 people diagnosed with lung cancer who responded to the survey between 2009 and 2015, 53.6% were men and 58.8% were between the ages of 65 to 80. Female patients were more likely to report negative experiences than male patients, as were non-White patients. When grouped by stage at diagnosis, patients with stage IIA-IIB cancer reported the most positive experiences. Patients who were diagnosed via the 2-week wait route or emergency presentation reported more positive experiences, while patients diagnosed via emergency presentation reported more negative ones.
Patients aged 65 to 80 years reported more positive experiences than other age groups. Patients over the age of 80 reported positive experiences for a number of pathway elements but reported negative experiences regarding clinical staff support. Patients who received treatment, though, tended to rate their experience with staff very positively. Patients with stage IIA-IIB lung cancer reported the most positive experiences in terms of information provided about their diagnosis. Those who were seen to be in the most socioeconomically deprived areas reported generally positive experiences but were more likely to report conflicting experiences with receiving information.
Improvements in Care
These data provide some insight into where lung cancer care can be improved for patients and health care professionals alike. A 2021 study in the European Journal of Cancer Care suggested that unmet clinical needs were associated with a decreased quality of life in patients with lung cancer, correlating with higher symptom burden.³
Research has shown that initiatives to actively improve quality of care for patients with lung cancer may yield benefits. In one study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, researchers broke lung cancer care into 5 nodal points: “lesion detection, diagnostic biopsy, radiologic staging, invasive staging, and treatment.”⁴ They suggested a multidisciplinary approach and a standardized care pathway could help improve care and the delivery time from diagnosis to treatment.
1. Lung cancer statistics | How common is lung cancer? American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/lung-cancer/about/key-statistics.html. Updated February 14, 2022. Accessed September 7, 2022.
2. Nartey Y, Tata LJ, Khakwani A, Beattie V, Beckett P, Hubbard RB, Stewart I. Using patient experiences to evaluate care and expectations in lung cancer: analysis of the English Cancer Patient Experience Survey linked with the national cancer registry. Support Care Cancer. 2022 May;30(5):4417-4428. doi: 10.1007/s00520-022-06863-4. Epub 2022 Feb 1. PMID: 35106657; PMCID: PMC8942895.
3. Cochrane A, Woods S, Dunne S, Gallagher P. Unmet supportive care needs associated with quality of life for people with lung cancer: A systematic review of the evidence 2007–2020. Eur J Cancer Care (Engl). 2021;31(1). doi:10.1111/ecc.1352
4. Taylor MB, Ray M, Faris N et al. A disease-based evaluation of lung cancer care quality in a community healthcare system. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2021;39(28_suppl):251-251. doi:10.1200/jco.2020.39.28_suppl.251