The Past, Present and Future of Pulmonary Metastasectomy: A Review Article

Ann Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2019 Jun 20;25(3):129-141. doi: 10.5761/atcs.ra.18-00229. Epub 2019 Apr 10.


Pulmonary metastases are a sign of advanced malignancy and an omen of poor prognosis. Once primary tumors metastasize, they become notoriously difficult to treat and interdisciplinary management often involves a combination of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery. Over the last 25 years, the emerging body of evidence has recognized the curative potential of pulmonary metastasectomy. Surgical resection of pulmonary metastases is now commonly considered for patients with controlled primary disease, absence of widely disseminated extrapulmonary disease, completely resectable lung metastases, sufficient cardiopulmonary reserve, and lack of a better alternative systemic therapy. Since the development of these selection criteria, other prognostic factors have been proposed to better predict survival and optimize the selection of surgical candidates. Disease-free interval (DFI), completeness of resection, surgical approach, number and laterality of lung metastases, and lymph node metastases all play a dynamic role in determining patient outcomes. There is a definite need to continue reviewing these prognosticators to identify patients who will benefit most from pulmonary metastasectomy and those who should avoid unnecessary loss of lung parenchyma. This literature review aims to explore and synthesize the last 25 years of evidence on the long-term survival, prognostic factors, and patient selection process for pulmonary metastasectomy.

Keywords: lung metastasectomy; lung resection; metastases; pulmonary metastasectomy; survival.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Disease Progression
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Forecasting
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / history
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality
  • Lung Neoplasms / secondary
  • Lung Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Metastasectomy / adverse effects
  • Metastasectomy / history
  • Metastasectomy / methods*
  • Metastasectomy / mortality
  • Pneumonectomy* / adverse effects
  • Pneumonectomy* / history
  • Pneumonectomy* / mortality
  • Pneumonectomy* / trends
  • Risk Factors