Socioeconomic factors may predict mortality risk in lung cancer patients

Socioeconomic factors — such as income level and education level — as well as hospital type may predict a patient's odds of dying within 30 days after undergoing a lung cancer operation, according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

To determine the specific clinical and socioeconomic factors that lead to disparities in 30-day mortality rates for lung cancer operation patients, researchers analyzed data from more than 215,000 lung cancer operation admissions entered into the National Cancer Data Base between 2003 and 2011.

The researchers found older age, male gender, multiple co-morbidities, late-stage cancer and larger tumor size were all linked to greater 30-day mortality following a lung cancer operation.

In addition to some of the less surprising factors the researchers linked to mortality, they found specific socioeconomic factors — including living in lower income households and residing in less-educated communities — were also independently associated with increased short-term postoperative mortality.

Highlighted below are three findings from the study.

  • Patients from communities with a median household income of less than $30,000 were 25 percent more likely to die within 30 days of a lung cancer operation than those living in neighborhoods with a median household income higher than $46,000.
  • The mortality rate was also 16 percent higher among patients from less-educated communities than those from better educated communities.
  • When compared to patients who received treatment at an academic research center, patients who underwent a lung cancer operation at a community hospital were 34 percent more likely to die within 30 days and patients who had the operation at a comprehensive center had a 22 percent higher chance of death.

"The quality of care needs to be uniform across the country for high-risk procedures, so that regardless of the treatment center, whether it is a community hospital or big academic tertiary care center, the results are going to be similar," said study co-author Felix G. Fernandez, MD.

Dr Fernandez is a lung surgeon and an assistant professor of surgery at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.



More articles on lung cancer:
Why lung cancer is going undiagnosed
Medicare to pay for lung cancer screenings for smokers
Healthcare costs for smokers, obese outweigh peers


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