Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer mortality in the United States. Stage-specific survival is well documented in national data sets; however, there remains limited recording of longitudinal survival in individual centers. The VistA Surgery Package was employed to list operations performed by the thoracic surgery service at one Veterans Administration (VA) Medical Center. During a period of 107 months, 416 thoracic operations were performed, 211 of them for lung cancer. Stage distribution was 66% stage I, 18% stage II, 12% stage III, and 4% stage IV. During follow-up, 102 patients died, 57 of them from disease-specific causes. Median survival was 39 months for stage I. Disease-specific median survival was 83 months for stage I, and 5-year survival was 52% (72% for stage IA and 32% for stage IB). Pulmonary resection offers high disease-free survival for early-stage lung cancer. Decentralized hospital computer programming (DHCP) allows individual oncology programs to reliably measure survival. Use of this important outcome measure in quality improvement programs facilitates realistic counseling of patients and meaningful assessments of practice effectiveness.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes