BETHESDA, MD—Does universal healthcare access provided by the MHS translate into improved patient outcomes for non-small cell lung cancer?

That was the question examined in a new study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. Survival of NSCLC patients treated within the MHS was compared to the U.S. general population.1

The study was led by researchers from the John P. Murtha Cancer Center, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
MHS data for the study were from the DoD’s Automated Central Tumor Registry (ACTUR), while data for the general population came from the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program.

The focus was on NSCLC patients diagnosed between Jan. 1, 1987, and Dec. 31, 2012, in ACTUR and a sample of SEER patients who were matched to the ACTUR patients on age group, sex, race and year of diagnosis group with a matching ratio of 1:4. Follow-up continued through Dec. 31, 2013.

Ultimately, 16,257 NSCLC patients were identified from ACTUR ,and 65,028 matched patients from SEER.

Results indicated that, Compared with SEER patients, ACTUR patients had significantly better overall survival (log-rank P < 0.001). The better overall survival among the ACTUR patients remained after adjustment for potential confounders (HR = 0.78, 95% confidence interval, 0.76-0.81).

Researchers emphasized that the survival advantage of the ACTUR patients was present regardless of cancer stage, grade, age group, sex or race.

“The MHS’s universal care and lung cancer care programs may have translated into improved survival among NSCLC patients,” study authors concluded, pointing out that their results confirms that NSCLC patients with universal care access have better outcomes.

1. Lin J, Kamamia C, Brown D, Shao S, McGlynn KA, Nations JA, Carter CA, Shriver CD, Zhu K. Survival among Lung Cancer Patients in the U.S. Military Health System: A Comparison with the SEER Population. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2018 Jun;27(6):673-679. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-17-0822.