[Reason for a medical visit in the diagnosis of lung cancer. A review of 481 cases].


INTRODUCTION Lung cancer is the most frequent cancer death related cause in the world. Its clinical presentation usually corresponds to advanced stages. The indication of screening programs for the diagnosis in early phases has been debated for years. AIMS To know the clinical characteristics in the presentation of the lung cancer in our health care area. MATERIAL AND METHODS All of the incident lung cancer cases for 3 years (January 1, 1997 to December 31, 1999) among those patients with usual residence in the Santiago de Compostela health care area were retrospectively collected from the available information in the Codification Service. The histological type was graded according to the World Health Organization classification. Date of death was obtained from the patient's clinical history, mortality record, or telephonic calls to the patient's home. The rest of the information was obtained from the clinical records of the patient and Pathology Service. RESULTS Four-hundred and eighty-one lung cancer cases were diagnosed (incident gross rate of 41.79 per 100,000 inhabitants and year). Median age was 66.9 years (interquartile range 60.5-74.4), 92.77% being males and 94.1% corresponding to smokers or former smokers. The most prevalent symptoms motivating the visit were general syndrome (20%), thoracic pain (19%) and hemoptisis (17%). A group of patients (56), fundamentally males, had an incidental diagnosis. CONCLUSIONS The incidence of lung cancer seems to be high in our health care area. The standard patient with lung cancer in this health care area is a 67-year-old, male, who smokes, diagnosed in advanced stages, who consults due to a general syndrome and/or chest pain. Some of the symptoms appear with significant gender differences. Likewise, there are differences between histologies, the high frequency of chest pain in adenocarcinoma being outstanding, although it is also the first cause for consultation in small cell lung cancer. On the contrary, hemoptisis, the most frequent consultation cause in squamous cell carcinoma and the general syndrome in the big cells type or with clinical-radiological diagnosis.


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