(ChemotherapyAdvisor) – The prevalence of benign findings after surgery for suspected lung cancers varies dramatically between different states, suggesting that results of a national lung cancer screening program would likely vary geographically, according to an analysis presented at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2013, in Washington, DC.

“Benign disease prevalence after lung surgery varies widely by state and resulted in a mortality rate of 2.1%,” reported a team led by database analyst Stephen A. Deppen, a doctoral candidate in epidemiology at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN.  

Deppen and his colleagues analyzed data from the MEDPAR Hospital National Limited Data Set data for 25,362 adult patients who underwent lung surgery for known or suspected lung cancer in 2009.

“Among these, 2,312 (9.1%) had a benign diagnosis” overall, Deppen reported. “Benign diagnosis was more frequent among women (9.8%) than men (8.5%) after surgery.”


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But the prevalence of benign findings varied dramatically from state to state (P<0.001)—representing 1.3% of lung surgery outcomes in Vermont, for example, and 25% in Hawaii, Deppen noted.

“Given the results of the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST), which demonstrated that low-dose computed tomography (CT) reduces lung cancer mortality, and the support for screening healthy, high-risk individuals with low-dose CT by clinical and patient advocacy groups, we will likely see screening for lung cancer in our near future,” Deppen said.

Identifying the causes of geographic variation in benign findings after lung surgery is important because that information could inform clinical guidelines for lung cancer screening, he noted.

“(The) cause of observed differences is not known but may be due to practice variation or locally endemic lung diseases and should be investigated to determine the impact to a national lung cancer screening program,” the coauthors concluded.

Abstract #3628