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Gregory J. Riely, MD, PhD


Is There a Link Between Regional Influenza Activity and Mortality Among Patients With NSCLC?

By: Chris Schimpf, BS
Posted: Thursday, February 1, 2024

Scientific Reports has published new research exploring the potential relationship between influenza illness and outcomes among patients with non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In their large ecologic cohort study, Simon K. Cheng, MD, PhD, of Columbia University Irving Medical Center, New York, and colleagues found that increased regional influenza activity was associated with higher mortality rates among patients with NSCLC in the United States.

“This is the first population-based study to estimate the effects of regional influenza activity on mortality rates in patients with lung cancer over multiple flu seasons,” the investigators noted. “Influenza is a major source of cancer-associated morbidity and mortality in the United States. Vaccine-directed initiatives and increased awareness amongst providers will be necessary to address the growing but potentially preventable burden of influenza-related cancer deaths.”

A total of 202,485 patients diagnosed with NSCLC between 2009 and 2015 were included in the study, drawn from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database. The researchers then merged influenza‐like illness activity data—provided by the Outpatient Influenza‐like Illness Surveillance Network of the Centers for Disease for Control and Prevention—with the SEER data set on the state‐month level and compared regional monthly mortality rates during low vs high flu months. Data from 13 SEER‐reporting states were included in the analysis.

The researchers observed high flu activity in 53 of 1,049 state‐months (5.1%). They reported that monthly mortality rates during low and high flu months were 0.041 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.041–0.042) and 0.051 (95% CI = 0.050–0.053), respectively (relative risk = 1.24; 95% CI = 1.21–1.27), and the association between influenza‐like illness activity and mortality was observed at the individual state level and in all clinical and regional subgroups.

Disclosure: For full disclosures of the study authors, visit

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