Patients With Advanced Non–Small Cell Lung Cancer Requiring Inpatient Medical Oncology Consultation: Characteristics, Referral Patterns, and Outcomes

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A significant minority of patients with advanced non–small cell lung cancer are hospitalized at the time of first consultation with a medical oncologist. We aimed to describe the characteristics and outcomes of this population. Analysis showed that a minority of patients received chemotherapy. Several factors were significantly associated with receiving chemotherapy and overall survival.


Patients with advanced non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) occasionally are hospitalized at the time of initial medical oncology consultation. We investigated the characteristics and outcomes of this population.


With ethics approval, we performed a retrospective analysis of patients with advanced NSCLC at our institution whose initial consult occurred while hospitalized from 2007 to 2012. This was an exploratory analysis. Multivariate survival analysis was performed using Cox regression models.


A total of 223 patients were included. Baseline demographics were as follows: median age, 65 years; 52% were female; median Charlson Comorbidity Index of 10; 69% performance status (PS) 3 to 4; 49% were current smokers; 90% had stage IV disease; and 52% had ≥ 5% weight loss. Only 24% received chemotherapy. Among those treated, the median time from diagnosis to chemotherapy was 43 days. Common reasons for not receiving chemotherapy included poor PS (72%) and patient choice (9%). Factors associated with receiving chemotherapy in multivariate analysis were good PS (odds ratio [OR], 9.01; 95% confidence interval [CI], 3.55-23.26; P < .001), no leukocytosis (OR, 3.56; 95% CI, 1.35-9.35; P = .01), and age < 70 years (OR, 6.80; 95% CI, 1.78-26.32; P = .005).


Factors associated with shorter overall survival in multivariate analysis were not receiving chemotherapy (hazard ratio [HR], 2.11; 95% CI, 1.28-3.48; P = .003), PS 3 to 4 (HR, 1.51; 95% CI, 1.01-2.26; P = .045), leukocytosis (HR, 2.13; 95% CI, 1.44-3.13; P < .001), and thrombocytosis (HR, 1.46; 95% CI, 1.03-2.09; P = .036).


Patients whose first consultation with medical oncologists occurs while hospitalized are an inherently sick population. Earlier diagnosis and referral would give more patients access to treatment options before a terminal functional decline.

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