Objective: This study was undertaken to assess mortality, complications and major morbidity during the first 30 days after lung cancer surgery and to estimate the significance of presurgical risk factors.
Methods: The study was based on all patients referred for surgery for primary lung cancer from 1 January 1987 to 1 September 1999. There were in total 616 patients with primary lung cancer. Three-hundred and ninety-four were men and 222 women. Postoperative events studied were divided into major and minor complications or death during the first 30 days after surgery. The significance of risk factors for an adverse outcome (defined as death or major complication in the first 30 days postoperatively) was assessed by uni- and multivariate logistic regression analyses.
Results: During the study period an increasing number of women and of patients older than 70 years underwent surgery. Overall 30-day mortality was 2.9, 0.6% after single lobectomy and 5.7% after pneumonectomy. Major complications occurred in 54 patients (8.8%). Fifty-eight patients (9.5%) had an adverse outcome during the first 30 days. Male gender, smoker, FEV(1)< or =70% of expected value, squamous cell carcinoma and pneumonectomy were risk factors predicting adverse outcome in the univariate model. Pneumonectomy and FEV(1)< or =70%, were the only independently significant factors for adverse outcome. Only pneumonectomy was independently associated with an increased risk for early death.
Conclusion: Our results show low mortality and morbidity after lung cancer surgery. However, patients with reduced lung capacity and those undergoing pneumonectomy should be treated with great care, as they run a considerable risk of major complications or death during the first 30 days postoperatively. Older age (>70 years) does not appear to be a contraindication to lung cancer surgery, but patients in this group should undergo careful preoperative evaluation.