Spread Through Air Spaces (STAS) in Lung Cancer: A Multiple-Perspective and Update Review

Cancer Manag Res. 2020 Apr 23;12:2743-2752. doi: 10.2147/CMAR.S249790. eCollection 2020.


Background: Spread through air spaces (STAS) is a spreading phenomenon of lung cancers, which is defined as tumor cells within air spaces in the lung parenchyma beyond the edge of the main tumor. To date, several articles have reviewed the studies concerning the significance of STAS; however, most articles focused on the prognosis without summarizing the significance of STAS on other aspects. In this review, we comprehensively summarized the current literature related to STAS, so as to explore the clinical significance of STAS from multiple perspectives.

Main body: This section provided a comprehensive overview of the significance of STAS from multiple perspectives and summarized current controversies and challenges in the diagnosis and clinical application.

Conclusion: STAS is a conspicuous spreading phenomenon of lung cancers indicating worse prognosis; nevertheless, the treatment strategy for patients with STAS remains to be discussed. Further studies are needed to elaborate whether a STAS-positive patient who underwent limited resection needs a second operation or postoperative adjuvant treatment. Meanwhile, the internal mechanism of STAS formation is largely undiscovered. Whether the capability of detachment-migration-reattachment in STAS tumor cells is achieved at the time of primary tumorigenesis or in the progress of tumor development needs to be studied, and the related signal pathways or genetic alterations need to be explored. With this information, it may be possible to improve the prognosis of patients with STAS-positive lung cancers.

Keywords: adenocarcinoma; non-small cell lung cancer; spread through air spaces; squamous cell carcinoma.

Publication types

  • Review

Grant support

This work was supported by Science and Technology of Jilin Province, Jilin Province Key Laboratory (3D517K363429); The Role and Molecular Mechanism of EMT in the Resistance of ROS1-positive Lung Cancer (20180101014JC/3D518PS23429); Jilin Province Department of Finance Project (3D5197398429); Jilin Province Department of Finance Project (3D5197464429); and Youth Program of National Natural Science Foundation of China (3A4197642429). The research fund was used for data collection and paper publication.