Original Study| Volume 24, ISSUE 2, P153-164, March 2023

Frailty Index is Associated with Treatment Decisions for Stage I Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer at a High-Burden Safety-Net Hospital

Published:December 27, 2022DOI:



      Lobectomy remains the cornerstone of care for stage I NSCLC while sublobar resection and stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) are reserved for patients with smaller tumors and/or poor operative risk. Herein, we investigate the effect of patient frailty on treatment modality for stage I NSCLC at a safety-net hospital.

      Patients and Methods

      A retrospective chart review was performed of stage I NSCLC patients between 2006 and 2015. Demographics, patient characteristics, and treatment rates were compared to a National Cancer Database cohort of stage 1 NSCLC patients. Patient frailty was assessed using the MSK-FI.


      In our cohort of 304 patients, significantly fewer patient were treated via lobectomy compared to national rates (P < .001). Advanced age (P = .02), lower FEV1 (P < .001) and DLCO (P < .001), not socioeconomic factors, were associated with higher utilization of non-lobectomy (sublobar resection or SBRT). Patients with lower MSK-FI were more likely to receive any surgical treatment (P = .01) and lobectomy (P = .03). Lower MSK-FI was an independent predictor for use of lobectomy over other modalities (OR 0.75, P = .04). MSK-FI (OR 0.64, P = .02), and FEV1 (OR 1.03, P < .001) were independently associated with use of SBRT over any surgery.


      Our safety-net hospital performed fewer lobectomies and lung resections compared to national rates. Patient frailty and clinical factors were associated with use of SBRT or sublobar resection suggesting that the increased illness burden of a safety-net population may drive the lower use of lobectomy. The MSK-FI may help physicians stratify patient risk to guide stage I NSCLC management.



      NSCLC (Non-small cell lung cancer), MSK-FI (Memorial Sloan Kettering frailty index), SBRT (Stereotactic body radiation therapy), FEV1 (Forced Expiratory Volume in 1 second), DLCO (Diffusion lung capacity for carbon monoxide)
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