Study objectives: Some investigators have suggested that lung cancer in young patients has a more aggressive course and a poorer prognosis than lung cancer in older patients. The aim of this study was to determine if the basal characteristics and survival in younger patients with lung cancer undergoing surgical resection differ from those of older patients.
Design: Retrospective clinical study.
Patients: Of 1,208 consecutive patients who underwent surgery for primary lung cancer between June 1984 and March 2000, we reviewed the medical records of 110 younger patients who were < 50 years of age at the time of surgery and compared them with 1,098 older patients (> or = 50 years of age). All deaths were included.
Results: In the younger patient group, asymptomatic disease and adenocarcinoma was significantly more frequent, the rate of smoking was significantly higher, and the amount of smoking (Brinkman index) was significantly larger. For the 94 younger patients with complete resection, the 5-year survival rate was 61.0%, which was not significantly higher than that for the 923 older patients (57.7%). However, the 53 younger patients with stage I disease (5-year survival of 84.3%) had significantly better survival than older patients with the same condition (71.6%). Survival of patients in stage II or stage III disease was not significantly different.
Conclusion: The younger patients had significantly better prognoses, and a statistical difference was shown especially in the early stage, while in the advanced stage the malignancy of the lung cancer itself surpassed the difference in survival.