Patterns of surgical care of lung cancer patients

Ann Thorac Surg. 2005 Dec;80(6):2051-6; discussion 2056. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2005.06.071.


Background: This survey was performed to determine the patterns of surgical care provided patients with non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC).

Methods: In 2001, the American College of Surgeons carried out a patient care survey of 729 hospitals to retrieve information of NSCLC patients' history, evaluation, pathology, and surgical treatment.

Results: Inclusion criteria were met by 40,090 patients: of whom 11,668 (29.1%) were treated surgically; 74.2% alone and 25.8% as part of multimodality therapy. Of these patients, 59.5% were in stage I, 17.5% in stage II, 17.0% in stage III, and 6.0% in stage IV. Surgery patient demographics were the following: 55% male and 45% female; 46.8% 70 years or older; and 76.3% had significant comorbidities. Tumor characteristics: squamous 28%, adenocarcinoma 37.6%, other 34.4%. Staging: in addition to radiologic examinations, preoperative mediastinoscopy was performed in 27.1% of operated patients with node biopsy in only 46.6% of these procedures.

Operations: wedge resection 15.6%, lobectomy 70.8%, pneumonectomy 13.6%. Surgical margins were positive in 7.8%, but only 65.2% had frozen section analysis. Perioperative mortality was 5.2%, but was 4.0% in nontransfused patients and 12.7% in transfused patients and was 3.2% in high-volume (more than 90 operations per year) versus 4.8% in low-volume hospitals (p < 0.001).

Conclusions: (1) Patients being operated for NSCLC are elderly with significant comorbid conditions. (2) More patients than previously are female and have adenocarcinoma. (3) Mediastinoscopy is infrequently performed and lymph nodes are biopsied in less than 50% of them. (4) Lobectomy is the most common operation, and positive surgical margins are too frequent. (5) Operative mortality is reasonable but transfusion is a marker for increased risk and outcomes are superior in high-volume hospitals. (6) Hospitals with higher volume had fewer perioperative deaths.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / surgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Lung Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging