INTRODUCTION: There is an ongoing debate on the optimal treatment for stage I NSCLC, with increasing evidence for comparable health outcomes after surgery and stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT). For clinical decision making, the experienced quality of life, summarized as health utility, is of importance to choosing between treatments. In this study, we evaluated differences in longitudinal health utility in stage I NSCLC in the first year after surgical resection versus after SBRT before any recurrence of disease. We also assessed the impact of potential prognostic variables on health utility.
METHODS: Prospectively collected databases containing data on patients with stage I NSCLC treated with either SBRT or surgery were pooled from two large hospitals in the Netherlands. Quality of life data were measured by the Quality of Life Questionnaire-Core 30 questionnaire at baseline and 3, 6, and 12 months after treatment. Health utility (measured using the European Quality of Life Five-Dimension questionnaire) was calculated from the Quality of Life Questionnaire-Core 30 questionnaire by using a mapping algorithm. Propensity score matching was used to adjust for selection bias. Treatment effects were estimated for the matched patients by using a longitudinal mixed model approach.
RESULTS: After correction for Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group score, sex, and age, the difference in 1-year averaged health utility between the SBRT and surgery groups was 0.026 (95% confidence interval: 0.028-0.080). Differences in health utility decreased over time.
CONCLUSIONS: A small but not statistically significant difference in health utility was found between patients with stage I NSCLC treated with surgery and those treated with SBRT. Current analysis strengthens existing evidence that SBRT is an equivalent treatment option for early-stage NSCLC. Comparative cost-effectiveness remains to be determined.