Multidisciplinary teams (MDTs) are the gold standard of cancer care, but many patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) don’t have the option of receiving care from such a team. And there may be room for improvement even with the MDT approach.

A team of researchers recently conducted a double-blind survey to gain more insight into the processes involved in caring for patients with NSCLC in a variety of cancer care programs, including practice patterns of medical specialists at different times of disease management. Their findings were published in JCO Oncology Practice.

In this study, conducted from January 24, 2019, to April 25, 2019, 639 participants from 160 cancer programs in 44 states responded to a 108-question survey. The list of participants was generated from the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) database.

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The study revealed information about barriers in practice. For example, respondents cited factors such as lack of primary care provider referrals (30.6%), community awareness (27.8%), and cost-related barriers (20.6%) as significantly affecting screening for lung cancer. Screening aids the early detection of lung cancer, which leads to earlier interventions and better prognosis and survival rates, yet there is a variability in screening across cancer program types.

Factors cited as having a significant impact on diagnosis included cost (18.5%), poor handling of biopsy samples (10.9%), and scheduling changes/limited access to biopsy procedures (10.2%).

The information gathered in this study provides the insight necessary to spur improvement in patient management.

“Moreover, we have identified gaps in patient care by analyzing each discipline involved with NSCLC management. Multiple opportunities exist to optimize the MDT framework,” they wrote. “Improving the quality of advanced NSCLC care may surmount barriers to care coordination, diagnosis, and treatment planning and adherence to evolving standards of care.”

Study limitations included a lack of cognitive interviews before the study began, its observational nature, a reliance on self-reported data, and the absence of a direct link between the multidisciplinary teams and clinical care delivery and outcomes.

Disclosures: Multiple study authors declared affiliations with biotech, pharmaceutical, and/or device companies. Please see the original reference for a full list of disclosures.


Salgia R, Boehmer LM, Celestin C, Yu H, Spigel DR. Improving care for patients with stage III or IV NSCLC: learnings for multidisciplinary teams from the ACCC National Quality Survey. JCO Oncol Pract. 2021;17(8):e1120-e1130. doi:10.1200/OP.20.00899