Study finds that practice makes perfect in lung cancer surgery

Oct 23, 2008

Patients operated on by surgeons who do not routinely remove cancer from the lungs may be at a higher risk for complications, according to a study conducted by researchers at Duke University Medical Center.

"Our study found that hospitals that do higher volumes of these types of surgeries have correspondingly lower mortality rates than those who do fewer of the procedures," said Andrew Shaw, M.D., an anesthesiologist at Duke and lead investigator on the study.

"This has important implications for both patients and doctors: patients should choose a center that does these procedures often, and doctors who are only doing a few of these a year should consider either growing their practices, or focusing their attention on other, less complex, types of surgery."

The results of the study will be published in the December issue of the journal Cancer Therapy, but they have already appeared online on the journal's Web site. The study was funded by Duke's department of anesthesiology.

The researchers used the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a publicly-available database of hospital admissions dating back 20 years and representing approximately 90 percent of hospitals in the country, to examine death rates following three common types of surgery for lung cancer -- pneumonectomy, in which the whole lung is removed, lobectomy, in which a third to half of the lung is removed, and segmental resection, in which a smaller portion of the lung is removed. Over 130,000 patient data samples were studied.

"Mortality is highest, for all three procedures, at institutions which perform very few of these types of operations," Shaw said. "Hospitals that perform 40 procedures or more per year have the lowest mortality rates."

The study also found that mortality in teaching hospitals is slightly lower than in non-teaching institutions.

"Patients are sometimes wary of having their surgery performed at a teaching institution because they think they may be operated on by an inexperienced trainee and this might lead to a poorer outcome," Shaw said. "Actually, it appears that the outcomes at teaching hospitals are no worse than at non-teaching, or private, institutions."

"Other studies have confirmed these findings with regard to other types of surgeries, and we thought it was important to study these factors with respect to lung cancer surgery, because this affects a large patient population," Shaw said.

Source: Duke University Medical Center

Explore further: Scientists discover hidden subpopulation of melanoma cells

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

US company sells out of Ebola toys

6 hours ago

They might look tasteless, but satisfied customers dub them cute and adorable. Ebola-themed toys have proved such a hit that one US-based company has sold out.

UN biodiversity meet commits to double funding

7 hours ago

A UN conference on preserving the earth's dwindling resources wrapped up Friday with governments making a firm commitment to double biodiversity aid to developing countries by 2015.

Partial solar eclipse over the U.S. on Thursday, Oct. 23

7 hours ago

People in most of the continental United States will be in the shadow of the Moon on Thursday afternoon, Oct. 23, as a partial solar eclipse sweeps across the Earth. For people looking through sun-safe filters, from Los Angeles, ...

Recommended for you

Scientists discover hidden subpopulation of melanoma cells

4 hours ago

UNC School of Medicine researchers have pinpointed a set of intriguing characteristics in a previously unknown subpopulation of melanoma cancer cells in blood vessels of tumors. These cells, which mimic non-cancerous ...

Blood biomarker may detect lung cancer

21 hours ago

A new study shows that patients with stage I to stage III non-small cell lung cancer have different metabolite profiles in their blood than those of patients who are at risk but do not have lung cancer. The study abstract ...

User comments : 0