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The New Zealand Medical Journal

 Journal of the New Zealand Medical Association, 18-June-2004, Vol 117 No 1196

[full text] [PDF]

Lung cancer treatment in New Zealand: physicians’ attitudes
Tim Christmas, Michael Findlay


To determine treatment practices of New Zealand physicians who manage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

A questionnaire on the treatment of NSCLC was emailed to all respiratory physicians, medical oncologists, and radiation oncologists in New Zealand. Respondents were asked to select the treatment they would offer in six lung cancer case scenarios.

Thirty-one (81%) respiratory physicians, 15 (71%) medical oncologists, and 8 (30%) radiation oncologists responded to the questionnaire. Surgery was selected (by all groups) as the best option for early-stage disease NSCLC. Radiotherapy or combination chemo/radiotherapy (for locally advanced disease) was favoured by 37% of respiratory physicians for stage IIIa and 28% for stage IIIb—compared with medical oncologists (100% and 80%) and radiation oncologists (86% and 28%). Chemotherapy for ‘fit’ patients with advanced disease was favoured by only 11% of respiratory physicians, compared with 67% of medical oncologists and 33% of radiation oncologists. Best supportive care (BSC) was the favoured treatment for patients with advanced disease with poor performance patients.

This study demonstrates considerable heterogeneity in the choice of treatment for NSCLC between specialities, particularly for locally advanced and advanced disease. These findings suggest international guidelines are not being adhered to, and variations in treatment may potentially have outcome implications for patients.

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