Assessing outcomes of cancer care: Lessons to be learned from a retrospective review of the management of small cell lung cancer at the Cancer Therapy Centre, Liverpool Hospital, January 1996-July 2000
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The purpose of the present paper was to review the outcomes of care of small cell lung cancer (SCLC) at one Sydney teaching hospital. A retrospective cohort study was carried out of patients with SCLC seen between January 1996 and July 2000. The main outcomes were relapse-free and overall survival. Secondary outcomes of interest were the uniformity of staging investigations, initial treatment, use of prophylactic cranial irradiation (PCI), patterns of relapse and treatment received following relapse. One hundred and three patients with SCLC were treated at the Liverpool Hospital Cancer Therapy Centre during this period. There were 58 men (56%) and 45 women (44%). Forty-two patients (41%) had limited stage disease (LD) and 61 (59%) had extensive stage disease (ED). There was considerable variation in staging investigations. There was little variation in systemic treatment of SCLC. Only 32 of 42 patients with limited stage SCLC were candidates for thoracic radiotherapy and only seven patients received PCI. Median relapse-free survival was 11.2 months (95% confidence interval (CI): 7.7-14.8) for patients with LD and 6 months (95%CI: 4.4-7.5) for ED. Median overall survival was 15.1 months (95%CI: 11-19.1) for patients with LD and 8.9 months (95%CI: 7.5-10.2) for ED. Some health outcomes similar to that reported in clinical trials can be achieved in clinical practice. Measuring health outcomes is an important process of maintaining quality of care.
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