Authors: Ganti AK, Hirsch FR, Wynes MW, Ravelo A, Ramalingam SS, Ionescu-Ittu R, Pivneva I, Borghaei H
Title: Access to Cancer Specialist Care and Treatment in Patients With Advanced Stage Lung Cancer.
Journal: Clin Lung Cancer 18(6):640-650.e2
Date: 2017 Nov
PubMed ID: 28522158
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Access to specialty care is critical for patients with advanced stage lung cancer. This study assessed access to cancer specialists and cancer treatment in a broad population of patients with advanced stage lung cancer. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Two study samples were extracted from 2 claims databases and analyzed independently: patients aged ≥ 18 years with de novo diagnosis of metastatic lung cancer in the MarketScan database between 2008 and 2014 (commercially insured adult patients; n = 22,268); and patients aged ≥ 65 years in the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results-Medicare database with a diagnosis of advanced non-small-cell lung cancer between 2007 and 2011 (Medicare-insured elderly patients; n = 9651). The study period spanned from 6 weeks before the first lung biopsy tied to the initial lung cancer diagnosis until the end of continuous health insurance enrollment, or data availability, or death. RESULTS: Among the commercially insured adults (MarketScan), most patients were seen by a cancer specialist within a month of first lung biopsy (80%), 12% were never seen by a cancer specialist, and 6% did not receive cancer-directed therapy. Among the Medicare-insured elderly patients (SEER-Medicare), the proportions were 79%, 4%, and 10%, respectively. Patients seen by a cancer specialist were more likely to receive cancer-directed therapy (95% vs. 92%, P < .001 and 92% vs. 38%, P < .001, respectively). CONCLUSION: Between 4% and 12% of patients with advanced stage lung cancer do not have appropriate access to cancer specialist, which appears to negatively affect access to optimal and timely treatment.