Few population-based studies are available on more than 5 years survival of lung cancer patients.
The aims of this report were to study the survival and the predictors of survival in all lung cancer patients in a defined population and to determine whether and how the length of time from symptom onset to confirmed diagnosis (delay time) influenced survival.
In a retrospective study, all incident cases from the Norwegian Cancer Registry and the hospital records in the Haugalandet area from 1990 to 1996 were followed until 31 December 2008. The dates of symptom onset, diagnosis, and death and information about demographics, initial stage, performance status, histology and initial symptoms were recorded.
Of a total of 271 patients, 57 (21%) were women, and the mean age at diagnosis was 67.4 years. One-year survival was 29.2%, and five- and 10-year survival was 8.5% and 5.5%, respectively. The median (inter quartile range, IQR) survival time was 5.7 (1.9, 14.1) months and the median (IQR) delay time was 2.2 (1.1, 3.7) months. Twenty-five patients (10% of those who died) had a non-lung cancer cause of death. No weight loss at the time of diagnosis was a significant predictor for long survival in addition to younger age, limited stage, good functional performance and surgical treatment, but delay time for diagnosis had no effect on survival time for lung cancer.
In the whole population of lung cancer patients, long-term survival remains poor and is not influenced by the diagnostic delay time.