Retrospective Analysis of Lung Transplant Recipients Found to Have Unexpected Lung Cancer in Explanted Lungs Academic Article uri icon

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  • Unexpected lung cancer is sometimes found in explanted lungs. The objective of this study was to review these patients and their outcomes to better understand and optimize management protocols for lung transplant candidates with pulmonary nodules. Retrospective analysis of pretransplant imaging and clinicopathologic characteristics of patients who were found to have lung cancer in their explanted lungs was performed. From January 2003 to December 2012, 13 of 853 lung transplant recipients were found to have unexpected lung cancer in their explanted lung (1.52%). Of them, 9 cases were for interstitial lung disease (2.8%; 9/321 recipients) and 4 cases were for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (1.57%; 4/255 recipients). The median period between computed tomographic scan and lung transplantation was 2.40 months (range: 0.5-19.2). On computed tomographic scan, only 3 cases were shown to possibly have a neoplasm by the radiologist. The staging of these lung cancers was as follows: 3 cases of IA, 1 case of IB, 5 cases of IIA, 1 case of IIIA, and 3 cases of IV. Of 13 cases, 9 died owing to cancer progression. On the contrary, only 1 stage I case with small cell lung cancer showed cancer recurrence. The median survival time was 339 days, and the 3-year survival rate was 11.0%. In conclusion, most of the patients with unexpected lung cancer showed poor prognosis except for the early-stage disease. The establishment of proper protocol for management of such nodules is important to improve the management of candidates who are found to have pulmonary nodules on imaging.


  • Nakajima, Takahiro
  • Cypel, Marcelo
  • de Perrot, Marc
  • Pierre, Andrew
  • Waddell, Tom
  • Singer, Lianne
  • Roberts, Heidi
  • Keshavjee, Shafique
  • Yasufuku, Kazuhiro

publication date

  • 2015