Survival after resection of synchronous non-small cell lung cancer

J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2011 Sep;142(3):547-53. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcvs.2011.03.035.


Objectives: Our objective was to determine the long-term survival of patients with resected synchronous multiple pulmonary malignant tumors.

Methods: This is a multi-institutional retrospective study of patients who underwent surgical resection of synchronous (nonbronchioloalveolar) non-small cell lung cancer.

Results: Between March 1996 and December 2009, 67 patients (30 men) underwent 121 operations. Forty-four patients had bilateral tumors. Positron emission tomographic scans were performed in 58 (87%) patients, computed tomographic scans and magnetic resonance imaging of the brain in 53 (79%), and mediastinoscopy in 56 (84%). N2 lymph nodes were benign in all patients before undergoing resection of bilateral tumors of the same histologic type. Types of resection were lobectomy in 62, sublobar in 73, and pneumonectomy in 1. Eleven patients (16%) had postoperative morbidities. Cancer-specific 3- and 5-year survivals were 73% and 69%, respectively, and overall 3- and 5-year survivals were 64% and 53%, respectively. Subgroup analysis demonstrated no difference in overall survival at 5 years between bilateral tumors of the same histologic type (M1a) (49%) versus different histologic types 42% (P = .88), or between bilateral tumors (50%) and ipsilateral tumors (54%) (P = .83).

Conclusions: The 5-year survival of surgically resected, synchronous, N2-negative, nonbronchioloalveolar, non-small cell lung cancer is excellent, even in patients who have bilateral lung lesions that harbor the same histologic features. Although the new TNM classification system labels this disease as clinical stage IV M1a, survival acts more like a separate T1 lesion after surgical resection. Thus, surgical resection should be considered in appropriately selected patients who have multiple pulmonary malignant tumors that are N2 negative.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / mortality*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / surgery*
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Lung Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms, Multiple Primary / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms, Multiple Primary / mortality*
  • Neoplasms, Multiple Primary / surgery*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome