Surgical management of non-small cell lung cancer with synchronous brain metastases

Chest. 2001 May;119(5):1469-75. doi: 10.1378/chest.119.5.1469.


Objectives: Published series on the synchronous combined resection of brain metastases and primary non-small cell lung cancer are small and scarce. We therefore undertook a multicenter retrospective study to determine long-term survival and identify potential prognostic factors.

Design: Our series includes 103 patients who were operated on between 1985 and 1998 for the following tumors: adenocarcinomas (74); squamous cell carcinomas (20); and large cell carcinomas (9). Three patients had two brain metastases, and one patient had three metastases; the remaining patients had a single metastasis. Ninety-three patients presented with neurologic signs that regressed completely after resection in 60 patients and partially, in 26 patients. Neurosurgical resection was incomplete in six patients. Seventy-five patients received postoperative brain radiotherapy. The time interval between the brain operation and the lung resection was < 4 months. Pulmonary resection was incomplete in eight patients.

Results: The survival calculated from the date of the first operation was 56% at 1 year, 28% at 2 years, and 11% at 5 years. Univariate analysis showed a better prognosis for adenocarcinomas (p = 0.019) and a trend toward a better prognosis for patients with small pulmonary tumors (T1 vs T3, p = 0.068), N0 stage disease (N0 vs N+, p = 0.069), and complete pulmonary resection (p = 0.057). In a multivariate analysis, adenocarcinoma histology also affected the survival rate (p = 0.03).

Conclusions: It seems legitimate to proceed with lung resection after complete resection of a single brain metastasis, at least in patients with an adenocarcinoma and a small lung tumor and without abnormal mediastinal lymph nodes seen on the CT scan or during mediastinoscopy.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brain Neoplasms / mortality
  • Brain Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Brain Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / secondary*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / surgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality
  • Lung Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate
  • Time Factors