Access to Cancer Specialist Care and Treatment in Patients With Advanced Stage Lung Cancer

Clinical Lung Cancer. Nov 2017;18(6):640-650 e642


Access to specialty care is critical for patients with advanced stage lung cancer. This study assessed access to cancerspecialists and cancer treatment in a broad population of patients with advanced stage lung cancer.


Two study samples were extracted from 2 claims databases and analyzed independently: patients aged ≥ 18 years with de novo diagnosis of metastatic lung cancer in the MarketScan database between 2008 and 2014 (commercially insured adult patients; n = 22,268); and patients aged ≥ 65 years in the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results-Medicare database with a diagnosis of advanced non-small-cell lung cancer between 2007 and 2011 (Medicare-insured elderly patients; n = 9651). The study period spanned from 6 weeks before the first lung biopsy tied to the initial lung cancer diagnosis until the end of continuous health insurance enrollment, or data availability, or death.


Among the commercially insured adults (MarketScan), most patients were seen by a cancer specialist within a month of first lungbiopsy (80%), 12% were never seen by a cancer specialist, and 6% did not receive cancer-directed therapy. Among the Medicare-insured elderly patients (SEER-Medicare), the proportions were 79%, 4%, and 10%, respectively. Patients seen by a cancer specialist were more likely to receive cancer-directed therapy (95% vs. 92%, P < .001 and 92% vs. 38%, P < .001, respectively).


Between 4% and 12% of patients with advanced stage lung cancer do not have appropriate access to cancer specialist, which appears to negatively affect access to optimal and timely treatment.

View abstract


Ganti AK, Hirsch FR, Wynes MW, Ravelo A, Ramalingam SS, Ionescu-Ittu R, Pivneva I, Borghaei H