Postoperative radiotherapy in stage II or IIIA completely resected non-small cell lung cancer: a systematic review and practice guideline Academic Article uri icon

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  • UNLABELLED: The Lung Cancer Disease Site Group of Cancer Care Ontario's Program in Evidence-based Care conducted a systematic review of literature published between 1985 and July 2003 and developed an evidence-based clinical practice guideline on postoperative radiotherapy in patients with completely resected pathologic stage II or IIIA non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Forty-four Ontario clinicians reviewed the draft guideline. Evidence included one meta-analysis of individual patient data (from nine randomized controlled trials) and three randomized controlled trials (two including data reported in the meta-analysis) that compared surgery with or without postoperative radiotherapy. The meta-analysis and one trial detected a significant detriment to survival with postoperative radiotherapy. Two trials detected no survival difference. The meta-analysis detected a significant advantage in local recurrence-free survival (time to local recurrence or death) with surgery alone, although two trials detected a significant advantage in rate of local recurrence with postoperative radiotherapy. Subset analyses from the meta-analysis and one trial suggested that postoperative radiotherapy was detrimental to survival mainly in stage II disease; no benefit or detriment was evident for stage III disease. RECOMMENDATIONS: Postoperative radiation therapy following complete resection of stage II non-small cell lung cancer is not recommended. No definitive recommendation can be made for stage IIIA disease.


  • Okawara, Gordon
  • Ung, Yee Chung
  • Markman, Barbara R
  • Mackay, Jean A
  • Evans, William K

publication date

  • April 2004