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: US spends more on cancer care, saves fewer lives than Western Europe

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Exercising pets helps avoid fat cat and pudgy pooch

Jan 06, 2015

This time of year, busy schedules and frequently frigid weather make it harder to stick with healthy habits, such as taking the dog for a walk. Yet finding ways to exercise your dog and cat during the winter can benefit the ...

From dried cod to tissue sample preservation

Nov 19, 2014

Could human tissue samples be dried for storage, instead of being frozen? Researchers are looking at the salt cod industry for a potential tissue sample drying technology that could save money without sacrificing tissue quality.

Recommended for you

Protein may be key to cancer's deadly resurgences

5 hours ago

Tumor recurrence following a period of remission is the main cause of death in cancer. The ability of cancer cells to remain dormant during and following therapy, only to be reactivated at a later time, frequently ...

US women's awareness of breast density varies

21 hours ago

Disparities in the level of awareness and knowledge of breast density exist among U.S. women, according to the results of a Mayo Clinic study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.