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Association of Receipt of Positron Emission Tomography-Computed Tomography With Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Mortality in the Veterans Affairs Health Care System.

Vella M, Meyer CS, Zhang N, Cohen BE, Whooley MA, Wang S, Hope MD. Association of Receipt of Positron Emission Tomography-Computed Tomography With Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Mortality in the Veterans Affairs Health Care System. JAMA Network Open. 2019 Nov 1; 2(11):e1915828.

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Importance: Positron emission tomography-computed tomography (PET-CT) has been increasingly used in the management of lung cancer, but its association with survival has not been convincingly documented. Objective: To examine the association of the use of PET-CT with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) mortality in the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system from 2000 to 2013. Design, Setting, and Participants: This cohort study included 64?103 veterans receiving care in the VA health care system who were diagnosed with incident NSCLC between September 2000 and December 2013. Data analysis took place in October 2018. Exposure: Use of PET-CT before and/or after diagnosis. Main Outcomes and Measures: All-cause and NSCLC-specific 5-year mortality; secondary outcome was receipt of stage-appropriate treatment. Results: A total of 64?103 veterans with the diagnosis of NSCLC were evaluated; 62?838 (98.0%) were men, and 50?584 (78.9%) were white individuals. Among these, 51?844 (80.9%) had a PET-CT performed: 25?735 (40.1%) in the 12 months before diagnosis and 41?242 (64.3%) in the 5 years after diagnosis. Increased PET-CT use (597 of 978 veterans [59.2%] in 2000 vs 3649 of 3915 [93.2%] in 2013) and decreased NSCLC-specific 5-year mortality (879 of 978 veterans [89.9%] in 2000 vs 3226 of 3915 veterans [82.4%] in 2013) were found over time. Increased use of stage-appropriate therapy was also seen over time, from 346 of 978 veterans (35.4%) in 2000 to 2062 of 3915 (52.7%) in 2013 (P? < .001). Increased PET-CT use was associated with higher-complexity level VA facilities (26?127 veterans [82.3%] at level 1a vs 1289 [75.2%] at level 3 facilities; P? < .001) and facilities with on-site PET-CT compared with facilities without on-site PET-CT (33?081 [82.2%] vs 17?443 [80.3%]; P? < .001). Use of PET-CT before diagnosis was associated with increased likelihood of stage-appropriate treatment for all stages of NSCLC (eg, veterans with stage 1 disease: 4837 of 7870 veterans [61.5%] who received PET-CT underwent surgical resection vs 4042 of 7938 veterans [50.9%] who did not receive PET-CT; P? < .001) and decreased mortality in a risk-adjusted model among all participants and among veterans undergoing stage-appropriate treatment (all-cause mortality: hazard ratio [HR], 0.78; 95% CI, 0.77-0.79; NSCLC-specific mortality: HR, 0.78; 95% CI, 0.76-0.80). Facilities with on-site PET-CT and higher-complexity level facilities were associated with a mortality benefit, with 16% decreased mortality at level 1a vs level 3 facilities (HR, 0.84; 95% CI, 0.80-0.89) and a 3% decrease in all-cause mortality in facilities with on-site PET-CT (HR, 0.97; 95% CI, 0.96-0.99). Conclusions: In this study, the use of PET-CT among veterans with NSCLC significantly increased from 2000 to 2013, coinciding with decreased 5-year mortality and an increase in stage-appropriate treatment. Variation in use of PET-CT was found, with the highest use at higher-complexity level facilities and those with PET-CT on-site. These facilities were associated with reduced all-cause and NSCLC-specific mortality.

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