Objective: The aim of this study was to compare quality of care and outcomes between Veteran and non-Veteran patients undergoing surgery for clinical stage I non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Background: Prior studies and the lay media have questioned the quality of care that Veterans with lung cancer receive through the VHA. We hypothesized Veterans undergoing surgery for early-stage NSCLC receive high quality care and have similar outcomes compared to the general population. Methods: We performed a retrospective cohort study of patients with clinical stage I NSCLC undergoing resection from 2006 to 2016 using a VHA dataset. Propensity score matching for baseline patient- and tumor-related variables was used to compare operative characteristics and outcomes between the VHA and the National Cancer Database (NCDB). Results: The unmatched cohorts included 9981 VHA and 176,304 NCDB patients. The VHA had more male, non-White patients with lower education levels, higher incomes, and higher Charlson/Deyo scores. VHA patients had inferior unadjusted 30-day mortality (VHA 2.1% vs NCDB 1.7%, P = 0.011) and median overall survival (69.0 vs 88.7 months, P < 0.001). In the propensity matched cohort of 6792 pairs, VHA patients were more likely to have minimally invasive operations (60.0% vs 39.6%, P < 0.001) and only slightly less likely to receive lobectomies (70.1% vs 70.7%, P = 0.023). VHA patients had longer lengths of stay (8.1 vs 7.1 days, P < 0.001) but similar readmission rates (7.7% vs 7.0%, P = 0.132). VHA patients had significantly better 30-day mortality (1.9% vs 2.8%, P < 0.001) and median overall survival (71.4 vs 65.2 months, P < 0.001). Conclusions: Despite having more comorbidities, Veterans receive exceptional care through the VHA with favorable outcomes, including significantly longer overall survival, compared to the general population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E664-E669
JournalAnnals of surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2023


  • non-small cell lung cancer
  • outcomes
  • quality of care
  • surgery


Dive into the research topics of 'Comparison Between Veteran and Non-Veteran Populations With Clinical Stage I Non-small Cell Lung Cancer Undergoing Surgery'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this