Revised ESTS guidelines for preoperative mediastinal lymph node staging for non-small-cell lung cancer

Eur J Cardiothorac Surg. 2014 May;45(5):787-98. doi: 10.1093/ejcts/ezu028. Epub 2014 Feb 26.


Accurate preoperative staging and restaging of mediastinal lymph nodes in patients with potentially resectable non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is of paramount importance. In 2007, the European Society of Thoracic Surgeons (ESTS) published an algorithm on preoperative mediastinal staging integrating imaging, endoscopic and surgical techniques. In 2009, the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) introduced a new lymph node map. Some changes in this map have an important impact on mediastinal staging. Moreover, more evidence of the different mediastinal staging technique has become available. Therefore, a revision of the ESTS guidelines was needed. In case of computed tomography (CT)-enlarged or positron emission tomography (PET)-positive mediastinal lymph nodes, tissue confirmation is indicated. Endosonography [endobronchial ultrasonography (EBUS)/esophageal ultrasonography (EUS)] with fine-needle aspiration (FNA) is the first choice (when available), since it is minimally invasive and has a high sensitivity to rule in mediastinal nodal disease. If negative, surgical staging with nodal dissection or biopsy is indicated. Video-assisted mediastinoscopy is preferred to mediastinoscopy. The combined use of endoscopic staging and surgical staging results in the highest accuracy. When there are no enlarged lymph nodes on CT and when there is no uptake in lymph nodes on PET or PET-CT, direct surgical resection with systematic nodal dissection is indicated for tumours ≤ 3 cm located in the outer third of the lung. In central tumours or N1 nodes, preoperative mediastinal staging is indicated. The choice between endoscopic staging with EBUS/EUS and FNA or video-assisted mediastinoscopy depends on local expertise to adhere to minimal requirements for staging. For tumours >3 cm, preoperative mediastinal staging is advised, mainly in adenocarcinoma with high standardized uptake value. For restaging, invasive techniques providing histological information are advisable. Both endoscopic techniques and surgical procedures are available, but their negative predictive value is lower compared with the results obtained in baseline staging. An integrated strategy using endoscopic staging techniques to prove mediastinal nodal disease and mediastinoscopy to assess nodal response after induction therapy needs further study.

Keywords: Endoscopic staging; Lung cancer; Preoperative staging; Restaging; Surgical staging.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / classification*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / surgery
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / classification*
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Lung Neoplasms / surgery
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology*
  • Mediastinal Neoplasms / classification
  • Mediastinal Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Mediastinal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Mediastinal Neoplasms / surgery
  • Neoplasm Staging / methods*
  • Thoracoscopy