The Effect of Socioeconomic Status on Treatment and Mortality in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Patients

Peggy J. Ebner, Li Ding, Anthony W. Kim, Scott M. Atay, Mimi J. Yao, Omar Toubat, P. Michael McFadden, Alex A. Balekian, Elizabeth A. David

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background: Treatment decisions for patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) are based on patient and tumor characteristics, including socioeconomic status (SES) factors. The objective was to assess the contribution of SES factors to treatment and outcomes among patients with stage I NSCLC. Methods: The National Cancer Database was queried for operable patients with stage I NSCLC. Patients were divided into three treatment groups: primary resection (ie, surgery only); nonstandard treatments consisting of chemotherapy with or without radiation; and no therapy. The SES of patients who made up the treatment groups was assessed, and the 5-year survival of all groups was analyzed. Results: The cohort included 69,168 patients with stage I NSCLC. Each of these patients had between zero and five SES risk factors. The factors associated with no surgery were low income, nonwhite race, low high school graduation rate, Medicaid or no insurance, rural residence, and distance less than 12.5 miles from treatment facility. Patients with several SES risk factors have linearly increasing odds of undergoing nonstandard treatments and quadratically increasing odds of having no therapy (for patients with five factors, to odds ratio 4.7; 95% confidence interval, 3.44 to 6.30). Surgery alone was associated with significantly longer 5-year survival (71.8%) compared with nonstandard treatments (22.7%) and no therapy (21.8%; P < .001). Conclusions: Socioeconomic status factors increase the risk of undergoing guideline discordant therapy for stage I NSCLC. As the number of SES factors increases, the odds of no therapy rises quadratically whereas the odds of nonstandard treatments rises constantly. The surgery only group had significantly longer survival than the nonstandard treatment and no therapy groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-232
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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