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Lung Cancer Surgery Longer and Costlier for Obese Patients: Study

Update Date: Dec 02, 2012 10:33 AM EST

A new research reveals that lung surgeries fall more expensive for obese patients. For the study, researchers analyzed data from more than 19,000 American patients who had a portion of lung surgically removed due to lung cancer between 2006 and 2010.

The findings revealed that for every 10-unit increase in BMI, the doctors took 7.2 extra minutes for the surgery. This finding was not limited to new hospitals, but even for hospitals with years of experience in caring for obese patients.

In the current research, a third of the patients were obese (with a BMI of 30 or above).  

"With operating room costs at $65 per minute, obesity can become very expensive very quickly," study senior author Dr. Eric Grogan, of Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, said in a journal news release.

Study author Dr. Jamii St. Julien, also of Vanderbilt, emphasized on the need for weight loss among people and healthy lifestyle choices.

"The fact that we are putting more and more costly resources into caring for obese patients needs to be considered as hospitals and policymakers think of ways to control future health care costs," St. Julien said in the news release.

According to researchers, in order to bring down the time of surgery on obese patients, there needs to be operating suites with larger rooms, bigger operating tables and longer surgical instruments to accommodate obese patients in hospitals.

"Obesity and lung cancer are two epidemics that are increasingly appreciated as significant threats to length and quality of life," Dr. David Jones, a professor at the University of Virginia, wrote in an accompanying journal editorial.

"This paper supports the need to more thoroughly examine how obesity impacts health care and resource allocation, particularly in the surgical population."

The study is published in the December issue of the journal Annals of Thoracic Surgery. 

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