Background: We retrospectively reviewed our 12-year experience in the surgical treatment of non-small cell lung cancer invading the left atrium. End points of the study were overall survival and factors potentially affecting survival.
Methods: Nineteen consecutive patients with lung cancer invading the left atrium underwent surgery. Three patients with N2 disease underwent induction chemotherapy. Patients with either incomplete resections or pN2 disease received postoperative chemoradiotherapy.
Results: Five-year survival was 14%, and the median survival time was 25 months. These figures refer to a very homogeneous group of patients with respect to the extent of atrial infiltration. Patients with N2 disease tended to have a worse outcome than patients with N0 or N1 disease (p = 0.06). The 3 patients with N2 disease who underwent induction chemotherapy were alive and disease-free at 30, 15, and 11 months from surgery. Survival was not affected by histology, type of surgery, or completeness of resection. Three patients with residual cancer in the atrial resection margin underwent postoperative chemoradiotherapy and are alive at 25, 17, and 15 months after surgery.
Conclusions: In spite of the poor survival rates we report, the present experience suggests that more-favorable results could be expected by the routine preoperative use of positron emission tomographic scan staging, a more-extensive assessment of atrial invasion, the application of induction chemotherapy in patients with N2 disease, and postoperative chemoradiotherapy in patients with tumors abutting the atrial resection margin.