Background: Whether a delay in the initiation of chemotherapy for advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) can affect overall survival is not well studied. We aim to evaluate the effect of the time interval between diagnosis and initiation of chemotherapy on overall survival in patients with stage IV NSCLC.
Methods: A retrospective review of newly diagnosed stage IV NSCLC patients who received chemotherapy between 1995 and 2012 was conducted. Demographics, histology and site(s) of metastases of patients were reviewed. Time interval between the date of diagnosis and the date of starting chemotherapy was calculated in days. Patients were divided in two groups based on median time interval: Group A < 46 days and group B > 46 days. The primary end point was the difference in overall survival between the two groups.
Results: A total of 172 patients were reviewed. Each group had 86 patients. Median age for both groups was 61 years. The most common histology was adenocarcinoma in A and B (43% vs. 45%, respectively). The sites of metastases in A and B were: brain (25% vs. 28%), liver (20% vs. 9%), bone (30% vs. 30%), respectively. Performance status of ECOG (Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group) :( 0-1) was 82% vs. 76% in A and B, respectively. The median overall survival for A was 7 months vs.12 months for B (p=0.04).
Conclusion: In this single institution review, delayed chemotherapy for stage IV NSCLC more than 46 days did not have a detrimental effect on overall survival and even suggested a better outcome. Further larger and prospective studies are warranted to validate these findings.