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      Relapse in resected lung cancer revisited: does intensified follow up really matter? A prospective study

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          beside the well known predominance of distant vs. loco-regional relapse, several aspects of the relapse pattern still have not been fully elucidated.


          prospective, controlled study on 88 patients operated for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in a 15 months period. Stage IIIA existed in 35(39.8%) patients, whilst stages IB, IIA and IIB existed in 10.2%, 4.5% and 45.5% patients respectively. Inclusion criteria: stage I-IIIA, complete resection, systematic lymphadenectomy with at least 6 lymph node groups examined, no neoadjuvant therapy, exact data of all aspects of relapse, exact data about the outcome of the treatment.


          postoperative lung cancer relapse occurred in 50(56.8%) patients. Locoregional, distant and both types of relapse occurred in 26%, 70% and 4% patients respectively. Postoperative cancer relapse occurred in 27/35(77.1%) pts. in the stage IIIA and in 21/40(52.55) pts in the stage IIB. In none of four pts. in the stage IIA cancer relapse occurred, unlike 22.22% pts. with relapse in the stage IB. The mean disease free interval in the analysed group was 34.38 ± 3.26 months.

          The mean local relapse free and distant relapse free intervals were 55 ± 3.32 and 41.62 ± 3.47 months respectively Among 30 pts. with the relapse onset inside the first 12 month after the lung resection, in 20(66.6%) pts. either T3 tumours or N2 lesions existed. In patients with N0, N1 and N2 lesions, cancer relapse occurred in 30%, 55.6% and 70.8% patients respectively

          Radiographic aspect T stage, N stage and extent of resection were found as significant in terms of survival. Related to the relapse occurrence, although radiographic aspect and extent of resection followed the same trend as in the survival analysis, only T stage and N stage were found as significant in the same sense as for survival. On multivariate, only T and N stage were found as significant in terms of survival.

          Specific oncological treatment of relapse was possible in 27/50(54%) patients.


          the intensified follow up did not increase either the proportion of patients detected with asymptomatic relapse or the number of patients with specific oncological treatment of relapse.

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          Effect of number of lymph nodes sampled on outcome in patients with stage I non-small-cell lung cancer.

          We postulate that surgical sampling and pathologic evaluation of lymph nodes of surgical specimens from patients with stage I non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) can have an effect on the time to recurrence and survival of these patients. We analyzed data on 442 patients with stage I NSCLC who were treated with surgical resection and some form of lymph node sampling. Associations between total lymph nodes sampled and disease-free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS) were investigated. The effect of total lymph node stations sampled and the surgical techniques (random lymph node sampling, systematic sampling [SS], or complete mediastinal lymph node dissection [MLND]) on DFS and OS was also studied. Complete MLND and SS were defined as dissection or sampling of levels 4, 7, and 10 for right-sided lesions and levels 5 or 6 and 7 for left-sided lesions. Patients were divided into quartiles on the basis of total number of lymph nodes sampled. Improved DFS and OS were associated with greater number of lymph nodes sampled. SS and MLND were associated with improved survival compared with random lymph node sampling. The total number of lymph nodes sampled maintained strong significance in the multivariate analysis. These results indicate that examining a greater number of lymph nodes in patients with stage I NSCLC treated with resection increases the likelihood of proper staging and affects patient outcome. Such information is important not only for therapy and prognosis of individuals but also for identifying those who may benefit from adjuvant therapy.
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            Detection of extrathoracic metastases by positron emission tomography in lung cancer.

            Accurate staging of non-small cell lung cancer is essential for treatment planning. We evaluated in a prospective study the role of whole-body 2-[18F]fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose (FDG) positron emission tomography (PET) in mediastinal nodal staging with a positive predictive value of 96%. The study was continued to further evaluate the value of whole-body FDG PET in detecting unexpected extrathoracic metastases (ETMs) in patients qualifying for surgical treatment by conventional staging. One hundred patients underwent clinical evaluation, chest and upper abdominal computed tomography scan, mediastinoscopy (lymph nodes greater than 1 cm on computed tomography), and routine laboratory tests. In 94 patients with stage IIIa or less and 6 with suspected N3 a whole-body FDG PET was performed. If clinical signs of ETMs were present additional diagnostic methods were applied. All findings in the FDG PET were confirmed histologically or radiologically. Unexpected ETMs were detected in 13 (14%) of 94 patients (stage IIIa or less) at 14 sites. In addition 6 of 94 patients were restaged up to N3 after PET. The suspected N3 disease (stage IIIb) on computed tomography was confirmed by PET in all 6 patients. There was no false positive finding of ETM. Weight loss was correlated with the occurrence of ETM: more than 5 kg, 5 of 13 patients (38%); more than 10 kg, 4 of 6 patients (67%). Pathologic laboratory findings were not predictive for ETM. Whole-body FDG PET improves detection of ETMs in patients with non-small cell lung cancer otherwise elegible for operation. In 14% of patients (stage IIIa or less), ETMs were detected, and in total, 20% of the patients were understaged.
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              Mediastinal lymph node dissection improves survival in patients with stages II and IIIa non-small cell lung cancer. Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group.

              Mediastinal lymph node dissection (MLND) is an integral part of surgery for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). To compare the impact of systematic sampling (SS) and complete MLND on the identification of mediastinal lymph node metastases and patient survival, the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) stratified patients by type of MLND before participation in ECOG 3590 (a randomized prospective trial of adjuvant therapy in patients with completely resected stages II and IIIa NSCLC). Eligibility requirements for study entry included a thorough investigation of the mediastinal lymph nodes with either SS or complete MLND. The former was defined as removal of at least one lymph node at levels 4, 7, and 10 during a right thoracotomy and at levels 5 and/or 6 and 7 during a left thoracotomy, while the latter required complete removal of all lymph nodes at those levels. Three hundred seventy-three eligible patients were accrued to the study. Among the 187 patients who underwent SS, N1 disease was identified in 40% and N2 disease in 60%. This was not significantly different than the 41% of N1 disease and 59% of N2 disease found among the 186 patients who underwent complete MLND. Among the 222 patients with N2 metastases, multiple levels of N2 disease were documented in 30% of patients who underwent complete MLND and in 12% of patients who had SS (p = 0.001). Median survival was 57.5 months for those patients who had undergone complete MLND and 29.2 months for those patients who had SS (p = 0.004). However, the survival advantage was limited to patients with right lung tumors (66.4 months vs 24.5 months, p<0.001). In this nonrandomized comparison, SS was as efficacious as complete MLND in staging patients with NSCLC. However, complete MLND identified significantly more levels of N2 disease. Furthermore, complete MLND was associated with improved survival with right NSCLC when compared with SS.

                Author and article information

                [1]Institute for Lung Diseases, Clinical Center of Serbia, Belgrade, Serbia
                [2]Institute for Medical Statistics, Faculty of Medicine, Belgrade, Serbia
                World J Surg Oncol
                World Journal of Surgical Oncology
                BioMed Central
                12 November 2009
                : 7
                : 87
                Copyright ©2009 Subotic et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.




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