Benn BS, Parikh M, Tsau PH, Seeley E, Krishna G., Lung. doi: 10.1007/s00408-019-00207-6. [Epub ahead of print], 2019 Feb 19
PURPOSE: While there is significant mortality and morbidity with lung cancer, early stage diagnoses carry a better prognosis. As lung cancer screening programs increase with more pulmonary nodules detected, expediting definitive treatment initiation for newly diagnosed patients is imperative. The objective of our analysis was to determine if the use of a dedicated interventional pulmonology practice decreases time delay from new diagnosis of lung cancer or metastatic disease to the chest to treatment initiation.
METHODS: Retrospective chart analysis was done of 87 consecutive patients with a new diagnosis of primary lung cancer or metastatic cancer to the chest from our interventional pulmonology procedures. Demographic information and time intervals from abnormal imaging to procedure and to treatment initiation were recorded.
RESULTS: Patients were older (mean age 69) and former or current smokers (72%). A median of 27 days (1-127 days) passed from our diagnostic biopsy to treatment initiation. A median of 53 total days (2-449 days) passed from abnormal imaging to definitive treatment. Endobronchial ultrasound-guided transbronchial needle aspiration was the most commonly used diagnostic procedure (59%), with non-small cell lung cancer the majority diagnosis (64%). For surgical patients, all biopsy-negative lymph nodes from our procedures were cancer-free at surgical excision.
CONCLUSIONS: Compared to prior reports from international and United States cohorts, obtaining a tissue biopsy diagnosis through a gatekeeper interventional pulmonology practice decreases median delay from abnormal imaging to treatment initiation. This finding has the potential to positively impact patient outcomes and requires further evaluation.