Objective: The purpose of this study was to evaluate postchemoradiotherapy surgery in stage IIIB non-small cell lung cancer.
Methods: Forty patients with stage IIIB non-small cell lung cancer were included in this phase II study. A preoperative diagnosis of stage IIIB cancer was based on mediastinoscopy or a thoracotomy in all patients. Induction treatment included two cycles of cisplatin (100 mg/m(2), day 1), 5-fluorouracil (1 g/m(2), days 1-3), and vinblastine (4 mg/m(2), day 1) combined with 42 Gy of hyperfractionated radiotherapy delivering 21 Gy in two sessions. Patients with a clinical response were offered surgery.
Results: The minimum follow-up for survivors was 48 months. Thirty patients had a T4 lesion and 18 had N3 disease. Twenty-nine patients (73%) had a clinical objective tumor response after induction treatment. These 29 patients underwent thoracotomy, and a complete resection was performed in 23 (58%). Two postoperative deaths occurred (7%). Four patients had a pathologic complete response at the time of surgery (10%). The 5-year survival is 19% for the overall population. When only patients who had persistent viable tumor cells at surgery are considered (n = 25), the 5-year survival is 28%. The 5-year survival is 42% for patients having no mediastinal lymph node involvement at the time of surgery and being treated with complete resection.
Conclusion: This study shows that surgery, when feasible, is associated with a 28% long-term survival for patients in whom chemoradiotherapy alone fails to control disease.