Do patients discussed at a lung cancer multidisciplinary team meeting receive guideline-recommended treatment?

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Clinical guidelines provide evidence-based management recommendations to guide practice. This study aimed to evaluate whether patients discussed at a lung cancer multidisciplinary team meeting received guideline-recommended treatment and determine reasons for not receiving guideline-recommended treatment.


All new lung cancer patients discussed at the Liverpool/Macarthur lung cancer multidisciplinary team meeting between 1 December 2005 and 31 December 2010 were included. Guideline-recommended treatment was assigned according to pathology, stage and ECOG (Eastern Co-operative Oncology Group) performance status as per the 2004 Australian Lung Cancer Guidelines. This was compared with actual treatment received to determine adherence to guidelines. For those patients who did not receive guideline-recommended treatment, the medical record was reviewed to determine the reason(s) for this. Survival was compared between those who did and did not receive guideline-recommended treatment.


808 new patients were discussed at the multidisciplinary team meeting. Guideline-recommended treatment could not be assigned in 2% of patients due to missing data. 435 patients (54%) received guideline-recommended treatment, and 356 (44%) did not. The most common reasons for not receiving guideline-recommended treatment were a decline in ECOG performance status (24%), large tumor volume precluding radical radiotherapy (17%), comorbidities (15%) and patient preference (13%). Patients less than 70 years who received guideline-recommended treatment had improved survival compared with those who did not.


A significant proportion of lung cancer patients did not receive guideline-recommended treatment due to legitimate reasons. Alternative guidelines are needed for patients not suitable for current best practice. Treatment according to guidelines was a predictor for survival.

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