Variations in Oncologist Recommendations for Chemotherapy for Stage IV Lung Cancer

What Is the Role of Performance Status?

Published in: Journal of Oncology Practice, v. 12, no. 7, July 2016, p. 653-662

Posted on on November 04, 2016

by Diana M. Tisnado, Jennifer Malin, Katherine L. Kahn, Mary Beth Landrum, Robert H. Fletcher, Carrie N. Klabunde, Steven Clauser, Selwyn O. Rogers, Nancy L. Keating

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PURPOSE: Chemotherapy prolongs survival in patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer. However, few studies have included patients with poor performance status. This study examined rates of oncologists' recommendations for chemotherapy by patient performance status and symptoms and how physician characteristics influence chemotherapy recommendations. METHODS: We surveyed medical oncologists involved in the care of a population-based cohort of patients with lung cancer from the CanCORS (Cancer Care Outcomes Research and Surveillance) study. Physicians were queried about their likelihood to recommend chemotherapy to patients with stage IV lung cancer with varying performance status (Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status 0 [good] v 3 [poor]) and presence or absence of tumor-related pain. Repeated measures logistic regression was used to estimate the independent associations of patients' performance status and symptoms and physicians' demographic and practice characteristics with chemotherapy recommendations. RESULTS: Nearly all physicians (adjusted rate, 97% to 99%) recommended chemotherapy for patients with good performance status, and approximately half (adjusted rate, 38% to 53%) recommended chemotherapy for patients with poor performance status (P < .001). Compared with patient factors, physician and practice characteristics were less strongly associated with chemotherapy recommendations in adjusted analyses. CONCLUSION: Strong consensus among oncologists exists for chemotherapy in patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer and good performance status. However, the relatively high rate of chemotherapy recommendations for patients with poor performance status despite the unfavorable risk-benefit profile highlights the need for ongoing work to define high-value care in oncology and to implement and evaluate strategies to align incentives for such care.

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