The third most frequently diagnosed cancer in Europe in 2018 was lung cancer; it is also the leading cause of cancer death in Europe. We studied patient and tumor characteristics, and patterns of healthcare provision explaining regional variability in lung cancer survival in southern Spain.
A population-based cohort study included all 1196 incident first invasive primary lung cancer (C33–C34 according to ICD-10) cases diagnosed between 2010 and 2011 with follow-up until April 2015. Data were drawn from local population-based cancer registries and patients’ hospital medical records from all public and private hospitals from two regions in southern Spain.
There was evidence of regional differences in lung cancer late diagnosis (58% stage IV in Granada vs. 65% in Huelva, p value < 0.001). Among patients with stage I, only 67% received surgery compared with 0.6% of patients with stage IV. Patients treated with a combination of radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and surgery had a 2-year mortality risk reduction of 94% compared with patients who did not receive any treatment (excess mortality risk 0.06; 95% CI 0.02–0.16). Geographical differences in survival were observed between the two regions: 35% vs. 26% at 1-year since diagnosis.
The observed geographic differences in survival between regions are due in part to the late cancer diagnosis which determines the use of less effective therapeutic options. Results from our study justify the need for promoting lung cancer early detection strategies and the harmonization of the best practice in lung cancer management and treatment.