Patterns of practice survey for nonsmall cell lung carcinoma in the U.S

H Choy, Y Shyr, A J Cmelak, P J Mohr, D H Johnson
Cancer 2000 March 15, 88 (6): 1336-46

BACKGROUND: Nonsmall cell lung carcinoma comprises approximately 75% of all lung carcinoma cases in the U.S. Newly evolving strategies have created considerable controversy regarding the optimal treatment for patients diagnosed with this disease.

METHODS: A 17-item survey was designed to collect demographic data and information regarding practice patterns for nonsmall cell lung carcinoma, including patient assessment, treatment approaches, and roles of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Surveys were mailed in the summer of 1997 to approximately 9200 oncologists of all types throughout the U.S. Practice settings included private office, private hospital, academic, university-affiliated office, government, and Veterans Administration institutions.

RESULTS: Approximately 10% of the oncologists responded (n = 979), including 499 medical oncologists (51%), 464 radiation oncologists (47%), and 16 others (2%). For the adjuvant treatment of surgically resected N1-2 disease, combined modality treatment was preferred over radiation therapy alone by medical oncologists (48% vs. 16%; P<0.001) and radiation therapy alone was preferred over combined modality treatment by radiation oncologists (55% vs. 38%; P<0.001). The combination of paclitaxel and carboplatin was the preferred first-line regimen for all stages of nonsmall cell lung carcinoma by the majority of medical oncologists (55%), whereas the majority of radiation oncologists (58%) chose the combination of etoposide and platinum. With regard to the optimal combined modality approach, respondents were divided evenly between concurrent chemoradiotherapy (34%) and sequential chemoradiotherapy (31%). Overall, respondents reported basing treatment decisions largely on published literature (55%) compared with personal experience (19%), seminars and colleagues (16%), and clinical trial availability (10%) (P<0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: This survey confirms many differences in practice patterns among medical oncologists and radiation oncologists in the treatment of patients with nonsmall cell lung carcinoma and suggests the need for the multidisciplinary management of this entity. In addition, the current study demonstrates that reliance on the medical literature as a basis for treatment steadily declines the longer the physician has been in practice.

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