Background: Survival characteristics of patients who have recurrent nonsmall-cell lung cancer after surgical resection are not well understood. Little objective evidence exists to justify treatment for these patients.
Methods: We prospectively followed 1,361 consecutive patients with nonsmall-cell lung cancer who underwent complete surgical resection at our institution from January 1997 to December 2001. Only patients having recurrent cancer were included in the analysis. Multivariable Cox proportional hazards models were used to evaluate the effect of prognostic factors on postrecurrence survival.
Results: Follow-up was achieved in 1,073 patients, and recurrent cancer developed in 445. Complete information was available on 390 patients for analysis. There were 262 men and 128 women. Median age at time of recurrence was 69 years. Median time from surgical resection to recurrence was 11.5 months, and median postrecurrence survival was 8.1 months. Recurrence was intrathoracic in 171 patients, extrathoracic in 172, and a combination of both in 47. Treatments after recurrence included surgery in 43 patients, chemotherapy in 59, radiation in 73, and a combination in 96. All patients who received treatment survived longer than those who received no treatment. Preoperative chemotherapy and postoperative radiotherapy for the primary lung cancer, poor Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group Performance Status, decreased disease-free interval from initial resection to recurrence, symptoms at recurrence, and certain location of recurrence significantly decreased postrecurrence survival.
Conclusions: In our experience, treatment for recurrent nonsmall-cell lung cancer significantly prolongs survival. Various treatment modalities including surgery should be considered in patients with postoperative recurrent nonsmall-cell lung cancer.