Researchers from the University of Nebraska established a correlation between other diseases occurring in lung cancer patients (known as “comorbidities”) and the impact on their survival. The study entitled “Comorbidity and Survival in Lung Cancer Patients” was published online on June 11, 2015 in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.
As lung cancer is a leading cause of cancer death in the United States, the researchers intended to study the impact of different comorbidities on the rate of overall survival in these patients. Consequently, they conducted a population-based cohort study with 5,683 lung cancer patients identified from the Nebraska Cancer Registry (NCR) between 2005 and 2009. Of these patients, 53.4% had metastatic lung cancer, and approximately 70% showed other comorbid conditions. The median survival was 9.3 months, although 36.8% of patients lived a year after lung cancer diagnosis.
The most common diseases associated with lung cancer patients were chronic pulmonary disease (52.5%), diabetes (15.7%), and congestive heart failure (12.9%). Other comorbidities found in lung cancer patients included dementia, connective tissue disease, peptic ulcer disease, mild liver disease, paraplegia/hemiplegia, renal disease, and moderate or severe liver disease. Patients with comorbid conditions were more likely to be diagnosed at an earlier stage, suggesting a contribution to lung cancer. Most importantly, after adjusting for race, age, type of lung cancer and gender, researchers found a correlation between comorbid conditions and a decrease in overall survival. Patients with localized lung cancer and one comorbidity had a 30 percent higher risk of mortality compared with those who had no comorbidity.
The study may assist clinicians in making better treatment decisions and predicting the overall survival of patients when individual comorbid conditions are taken into consideration.
“As the population of the United States ages, there will be a higher number of lung cancer patients with comorbidities at diagnosis,” said K.M. Monirul Islam, responsible for the study, in a press release. “Our results are based on cancer registry data from one state, so the results may not be generalizable to other populations,” Islam added. “There is a need for a prospective study to confirm these results. We are planning to develop a lung cancer-specific comorbidity index using prospective data for the best estimate of the impact of individual comorbid conditions on survival.”