Variability in invasive mediastinal staging for lung cancer: A multicenter regional study.

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The Journal of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery


diagnostics; lung cancer staging; lymph nodes


OBJECTIVE: Prior studies have reported underuse of-but not variability in-invasive mediastinal staging in the pretreatment evaluation of patients with lung cancer. We sought to compare rates of invasive mediastinal staging for lung cancer across hospitals participating in a regional quality improvement and research collaborative.

METHODS: We conducted a retrospective study (2011-2013) of patients undergoing resected lung cancer from the Surgical Clinical Outcomes and Assessment Program in Washington State. Invasive mediastinal staging included mediastinoscopy and/or endobronchial/esophageal ultrasound-guided nodal aspiration. We used a mixed-effects model to mitigate the influence of small sample sizes at any 1 hospital on rates of invasive staging and to adjust for hospital-level differences in the frequency of clinical stage IA disease.

RESULTS: A total of 406 patients (mean age, 68 years; 69% clinical stage IA; and 67% lobectomy) underwent resection at 5 hospitals (4 community and 1 academic). Invasive staging occurred in 66% of patients (95% confidence interval [CI], 61%-71%). CI inspection revealed that 2 hospitals performed invasive staging significantly more often than the overall average (94%, [95% CI, 89%-96%] and 84% [95% CI, 78%-88%]), whereas 2 hospitals performed invasive staging significantly less often than overall average (31% [95% CI, 21%-44%] and 17% [95% CI, 7%-36%]).

CONCLUSIONS: Rates of invasive mediastinal staging varied significantly across hospitals providing surgical care for patients with lung cancer. Future studies that aim to understand the reasons underlying variability in care may inform quality improvement initiatives or lead to the development of novel staging algorithms.

Clinical Institute