Lung carcinoma symptoms—An independent predictor of survival and an important mediator of African-American disparity in survival




The extent of disease in patients with lung carcinoma is reflected morphologically by stage and pathophysiologically by sign/symptoms. This study evaluates the associations between symptoms and stage, the independent impact of symptoms on survival, predictors of symptoms, and the extent to which symptoms mediate survival disparities.


Data from 1154 patients with lung carcinoma were collected from the authors' tumor registry and by abstraction of medical records. Associations were evaluated by logistic and Cox regression analyses.


Symptomatic diagnoses were associated with advanced disease stage (odds ratio [OR], 4.53; 95% confidence interval [95%CI], 3.17–6.48). Hoarseness, hemoptysis, dyspnea, noncardiac chest pain, extrathoracic pain, neurologic symptoms, weight loss, and weakness/fatigue (adverse symptoms) were associated independently with relatively higher/advanced stage and/or reduced survival. Adverse symptoms (≥ 1 vs. 0) predicted reduced survival independently of stage and other prognosticators (hazard ratio [HR], 1.84; 95%CI, 1.52–2.21). Independent predictors of adverse symptoms included gender (ORmale vs. female, 1.50; 95%CI, 1.11–2.01), race/ethnicity (ORblack vs. white, 1.62; 95%CI, 1.18–2.21), and marital status (ORspouseless vs. not, 1.79; 95%CI 1.31–2.45). The hazard ratios (HR; black vs white), univariate, adjusted for stage, and adjusted for stage and adverse symptoms, was 1.206 (95%CI, 1.05–1.38), 1.165 (95%CI, 1.01–1.34), and 1.075 (95%CI, 0.94–1.26), respectively. Adverse symptoms explained 43% of race/ethnic survival disparity beyond stage.


Symptoms were associated with disease stage, yet both were important, independent predictors of survival; and symptoms explained an important amount of race/ethnic disparity in the survival of patients with lung carcinoma. Symptomatology needs to be incorporated into cancer clinical trials and into outcomes and disparities research. Cancer 2004. © 2004 American Cancer Society.