For a study, researchers sought to look at how patient characteristics and treatment patterns for small cell lung cancer (SCLC) changed over time in a Medicare population. The Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER)–Medicare linked data were used in a retrospective analysis. Patients were included if they were more than or equal to 65 years old and had a record in the database with a diagnosis of SCLC from January 1, 2007, to December 31, 2017. Patients were also enrolled for up to 180 days before being diagnosed with SCLC. SCLC patients’ characteristics and treatment patterns were divided into groups based on the year of diagnosis. About 13,516 patients met the study’s criteria. Overall, 57.7% were female, the average age was 74, 89.5% were white, and 45.6% had a tobacco use history. The vast majority (73.1%) were diagnosed with stage IV cancer. Over half of the patients (55.4%) started first-line treatment, and the average period from diagnosis to 1L treatment was 6 weeks. Only 36.7% of those who started 1L continued to 2L. The most prevalent 1L regimen was platinum-based chemotherapy (carboplatin or cisplatin + etoposide) (91.3%). In 2L, 44.7% of patients were given monotherapy, with topotecan being the most prevalent (28.4%). Approximately 20% of 2L patients received carboplatin plus etoposide. The demographic characteristics of patients diagnosed with SCLC remained relatively steady over time, except for individuals having a history of tobacco smoking, which more than tripled between 2007 and 2017, rising from 19.3% to 67.7%. Between 2007 and 2017, the percentage of SCLC patients who started 1L treatment climbed by 8.2%, from 53.8% to 58.2%, while the percentage who started 2L treatment ranged between 35 and 39%. During the study period, most patients in 1L (88.7%–96.6%) received platinum-based chemotherapy regularly. From 2007 to 2014, the most common 2L regimens were other chemo monotherapy (e.g., topotecan) and platinum-based chemotherapy with or without irinotecan. Checkpoint inhibitors (CPIs) became the most common 2L treatment after platinum-based chemotherapy in 2017, with 41.5% of patients receiving a CPI in 2L. Even though a growing number of SCLC patients were seeking treatment, only about 60% of SCLC patients received any anticancer therapy. Fewer still receive more than one treatment, emphasizing the continuous need for effective SCLC therapies.
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