Introduction: Despite recent therapeutic advances, lung cancer is a difficult disease to manage. This study assessed clinicians’ perceptions of care difficulty, quality of life (QOL), and symptom reports for their lung cancer patients compared with their patients with breast, prostate, and colon cancer.
Methods: This report focused on secondary analyses from the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) Symptom Outcomes and Practice Patterns (SOAPP) study (E2Z02); outcome measures included clinician ratings of 3106 solid tumor patients. Univariate analyses focused on patterns of disease-specific perceptions; multivariable analyses examined whether disease-specific differences persisted after covariate inclusion.
Results: In univariate comparisons, clinicians rated lung cancer patients as more difficult to treat than other solid tumor patients, with poorer QOL and higher symptom reports. After covariates were adjusted, the odds of clinicians perceiving lower QOL for their lung cancer patients were 3.6 times larger than for patients with other solid tumors (odds ratio = 3.6 [95% confidence interval, 2.0–6.6]; p < 0.0001). In addition, the odds of clinicians perceiving weight difficulties for their lung cancer patients were 3.2 times larger (odds ratio = 3.2 [95% confidence interval, 1.7–6.0]; p = 0.0004). No other outcome showed significant differences between lung versus other cancers in multivariable models.
Conclusion: Clinicians were more pessimistic about the well-being of their lung cancer patients compared with patients with other solid tumors. Differences remained for clinician perceptions of patient QOL and weight difficulty, even after controlling for such variables as stage, performance status, and patient-reported outcomes. These continuing disparities suggest possible perception bias. More research is needed to confirm this disparity and explore the underpinnings.