The IASLC Lung Cancer Staging Project: Proposals for the Revisions of the T Descriptors in the Forthcoming Eighth Edition of the TNM Classification for Lung Cancer

J Thorac Oncol. 2015 Jul;10(7):990-1003. doi: 10.1097/JTO.0000000000000559.


Introduction: An international database was collected to inform the 8 edition of the anatomic classification of lung cancer. The present analyses concern its primary tumor (T) component.

Methods: From 1999 to 2010, 77,156 evaluable patients, 70,967 with non-small-cell lung cancer, were collected; and 33,115 had either a clinical or a pathological classification, known tumor size, sufficient T information, and no metastases. Survival was measured from date of diagnosis or surgery for clinically and pathologically staged tumors. Tumor-size cutpoints were evaluated by the running log-rank statistics. T descriptors were evaluated in a multivariate Cox regression analysis adjusted for age, gender, histological type, and geographic region.

Results: The 3-cm cutpoint significantly separates T1 from T2. From 1 to 5 cm, each centimeter separates tumors of significantly different prognosis. Prognosis of tumors greater than 5 cm but less than or equal to 7 cm is equivalent to T3, and that of those greater than 7 cm to T4. Bronchial involvement less than 2 cm from carina, but without involving it, and total atelectasis/pneumonitis have a T2 prognosis. Involvement of the diaphragm has a T4 prognosis. Invasion of the mediastinal pleura is a descriptor seldom used.

Conclusions: Recommended changes are as follows: to subclassify T1 into T1a (≤1 cm), T1b (>1 to ≤2 cm), and T1c (>2 to ≤3 cm); to subclassify T2 into T2a (>3 to ≤4 cm) and T2b (>4 to ≤5 cm); to reclassify tumors greater than 5 to less than or equal to 7 cm as T3; to reclassify tumors greater than 7 cm as T4; to group involvement of main bronchus as T2 regardless of distance from carina; to group partial and total atelectasis/pneumonitis as T2; to reclassify diaphragm invasion as T4; and to delete mediastinal pleura invasion as a T descriptor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / classification*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / classification*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Sex Factors