According to the results of a study published in the journal Lancet Oncology, a scoring system developed by researchers in France can be used to estimate the probability that a patient with non–small cell lung cancer will survive for at least four years.

Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) accounts for approximately 75–80% of all lung cancers.

Although researchers have identified many factors that influence lung cancer survival, a simple and accurate way to assess an individual patient’s prognosis at the time of diagnosis has not been available. To develop such a tool, researchers in France conducted a study among more than 4,000 NSCLC patients.

The researchers found that five factors appeared to be the most important predictors of death. These factors were age, sex, level of disability, type of NSCLC, and stage of NSCLC.

The researchers assigned scores to each of these factors, with a higher score indicating a greater risk of lung cancer death. Characteristics that were linked with a higher risk of death were being male, being over the age of 70, being more disabled, having large-cell NSCLC, or having a higher stage of NSCLC. The scores on each individual factor were added together to get a patient’s overall risk score. These scores could range from 0 to 22 points.

The researchers found that risk of death clearly increased with increasing risk scores. The probability of dying within four years ranged from roughly 35% among patients with the lowest risk score (0 to 1 points) to 99% among patients with the highest risk score (15 or more points). The risk scores also predicted one- and two-year risks of death.

This tool appears to offer a simple and accurate approach to estimating NSCLC prognosis, and may be useful in managing patient care and identifying patients for clinical trials.

**Reference:**Blanchon F, Grivaux M, Asselain B et al. 4-year Mortality in Patients with Non-small Cell Lung Cancer: Development and Validation of Prognostic Index. Lancet Oncology. 2006;7:829-836.

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