Background Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) comprises approximately 85% of all lung cancer cases, and surgery is the preferred treatment for patients. The National Health Service established Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) in 2002 to manage local health needs. We investigate whether PCTs with a lower uptake of surgical treatment are those with above-average mortality 1 year after diagnosis. The applied methods can be used to monitor the performance of any administrative bodies responsible for the management of patients with cancer. Methods All adults diagnosed with NSCLC lung cancer during 1998-2006 in England were identified. We fitted mixed effect logistic models to predict surgical treatment within 6 months after diagnosis, and mortality within 1 year of diagnosis. Results Around 10% of the NCSLC patients received curative surgery. Older deprived patients and those who did not receive surgery had much higher odds of death 1 year after being diagnosed with cancer. In total, 69% of the PCTs were below the lower control limit of surgery and have predicted random intercepts above the mean value of zero of the random effect for mortality, whereas 40% were above the upper control limit of mortality within 1 year. Conclusions Our main results suggest the presence of clear geographical variation in the use of surgical treatment of NSCLC and mortality. Mixed-effects models combined with the funnel plot approach were useful for assessing the performance of PCTs that were above average in mortality and below average in surgery.
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