Complete Lymphadenectomy for Clinical Stage I Lepidic Adenocarcinoma of the Lung: Is it justified?

Semin Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2023 Summer;35(2):399-409. doi: 10.1053/j.semtcvs.2021.11.020. Epub 2022 Mar 8.


The role of a systematic lymphadenectomy in patients undergoing surgery for clinical stage I lung lepidic adenocarcinoma is still unclear. In the last years, some authors have advocated the possibility to avoid a complete lymph-node dissection in this setting. Results of patients who received systematic hilar-mediastinal nodal dissection for this oncologic condition are here reported. Between 2012 and March 2019, 135 consecutive patients underwent lung resection for clinical stage I lepidic adenocarcinoma, at our institution. Only patients (n = 98) undergoing lobectomy or sublobar resection associated with systematic hilar-mediastinal nodal dissection were retrospectively enrolled in the study. Patients' mean age was 67.8 ± 8.7 years (range 37-84). Three were 52 females and 46 males. Resection was lobectomy in 77.6% (n = 76) and sublobar in 22.4% (n = 22). All the resections were complete (R0). Histology was lepidic predominant adenocarcinoma in 85 cases and minimally invasive adenocarcinoma in 13 cases. At pathologic examination, N0 was confirmed in 78 patients (79.6%), while N+ was found in 20 cases (20.4%), (N1 in 12, 12.2% and N2 in 8, 8.2%). No mortality occurred. Complication rate was 8.2%. At a median follow-up of 45.5 months, recurrence rate was 26.5%. Disease-free 5-year survival was 98.6% for stage I, 75% for stage II and 45% for stage III, p < 0.001. A complete nodal dissection can reveal occult nodal metastases in lepidic adenocarcinoma patients and can increase the accuracy of pathologic staging. N1/N2 disease is a negative prognostic factor for this histology. A systematic lymph-node dissection should be considered even in this setting.

Keywords: Lepidic adenocarcinoma; Lung cancer; Lymphadenectomy.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma of Lung* / surgery
  • Adenocarcinoma*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung* / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung / pathology
  • Lung Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Lymph Node Excision / adverse effects
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Pneumonectomy / adverse effects
  • Pneumonectomy / methods
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome