“Incomplete Resection” in Non–Small Cell Lung Cancer: Need for a New Definition
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BACKGROUND: This study was designed to determine the prognostic value of positive surgical resection margin or highest nodal station sampled at thoracotomy in patients with non-small cell lung cancer. METHODS: Two reviewers independently examined the surgical records and pathologic reports from a randomized trial comparing computed tomography versus mediastinoscopy for staging of lung cancer. They recorded pathologic findings at the surgical resection margin, the highest mediastinal nodal station sampled at thoracotomy, histologic type, tumor size, N status, and evidence of vascular or lymphatic invasion. These variables formed the independent variables in logistic regression models to predict recurrence. RESULTS: Except for 1 patient, follow-up at 3 years for 399 included patients was complete. Significant predictors of recurrence were tumor size (odds ratio [OR], 1.2 (per centimeter); 99% CI [confidence interval], 1.1 to 1.4), and N status (compared with N0, N1: OR, 1.6; CI, 0.8 to 3.1; N2: OR, 3.2; CI, 1.4 to 7.5). Other variables, including positive surgical resection margin, did not predict early recurrence or death. CONCLUSIONS: In patients with non-small cell lung cancer, surgical resection margin or highest nodal station sampled at thoracotomy that are involved by carcinoma do not predict recurrence. The current definition of incomplete resection has limited prognostic significance.
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