• chemotherapy;
  • lung cancer;
  • radiotherapy;
  • SCLC


Aim:  Evidence supporting improved outcomes for small cell lung cancer (SCLC) in recent decades is limited. This study aimed to identify patterns of care and survival over two time periods; 1 January 1987 to 31 December 1996 (cohort A) and 1 January 1997 to 31 December 2006 9 (cohort B).

Methods:  Patients' characteristics, management and outcome data were extracted from the Hospital Cancer Registry and clinical records. Survival analysis was determined using the Kaplan–Meier method and the log–rank test. Factors influencing survival outcome were assessed using Cox proportional hazards regression.

Results:  The total number of patients was 392 (224 in cohort A, 168 in cohort B). Overall 38% patients in cohort A and 24% in cohort B had limited stage (LS) disease at diagnosis. Combined chemoradiotherapy for LS increased from 5% in cohort A to 65% in cohort B. Overall 19% of patients in cohort A and 24% in cohort B received symptomatic treatment alone (STA). Median survival for LS in cohort B was significantly higher (19.5 months), than in cohort A (11.8 months) (P = 0.03). In extensive stage (ES) disease, median survival was 6.2 months in cohort A and 4.3 months in cohort B (P = 0.7). Variables for poorer outcome were STA, male gender, poor performance status, ES and whether the diagnosis was made in the earlier time period in cohort A.

Conclusion:  Outcomes for LS SCLC have improved with combined chemoradiotherapy, in keeping with worldwide data. The trends may also reflect recent improvements in staging and standardization of treatment. The outcome for ES-SCLC remains poor.