Evolution in the Surgical Care of Patients With Non–Small Cell Lung Cancer in the Mid-South Quality of Surgical Resection Cohort


Surgery is the most important curative treatment modality for patients with early-stage non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). We examined the pattern of surgical resection for NSCLC in a high incidence and mortality region of the United States over a 10-year period (2004-2013) in the context of a regional surgical quality improvement initiative. We abstracted patient-level data on all resections at 11 hospitals in 4 contiguous Dartmouth Hospital Referral Regions in North Mississippi, East Arkansas, and West Tennessee. Surgical quality measures focused on intraoperative practice, with emphasis on pathologic nodal staging. We used descriptive statistics and trend analyses to assess changes in practice over time. To measure the effect of an ongoing regional quality improvement intervention with a lymph node specimen collection kit, we used period effect analysis to compare trends between the preintervention and postintervention periods. Of 2566 patients, 18% had no preoperative biopsy, only 15% had a preoperative invasive staging test, and 11% underwent mediastinoscopy. The rate of resections with no mediastinal lymph nodes examined decreased from 48%-32% (P < 0.0001), whereas the rate of resections examining 3 or more mediastinal stations increased from 5%-49% (P < 0.0001). There was a significant period effect in the increase in the number of N1, mediastinal, and total lymph nodes examined (all P < 0.0001). A quality improvement intervention including a lymph node specimen collection kit shows early signs of having a significant positive effect on pathologic nodal examination in this population-based cohort. However, gaps in surgical quality remain.

Publication Title

Seminars in Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery