Background: For patients with completely resected non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with ipsilateral mediastinal lymph node involvement (pN2), the administration of adjuvant chemotherapy is the standard of care. The role of postoperative radiation therapy (PORT) is controversial.
Methods: We describe the current literature focusing on the role of PORT in completely resected NSCLC patients with pN2 involvement and reflect on its role in current guidelines.
Results: Based on the results of the recent Lung ART and PORT-C trials, the authors conclude that PORT cannot be generally recommended for all resected pN2 NSCLC patients. A substantial decrease in the locoregional relapse rate without translating into a survival benefit suggests that some patients with risk factors might benefit from PORT. This must be balanced against the risk of cardiopulmonary toxicity with potentially associated mortality. Lung ART has already changed the decision making for the use of PORT in daily practice for many European lung cancer experts, with lower rates of recommendations for PORT overall.
Conclusions: PORT is still used, albeit decreasingly, for completely resected NSCLC with pN2 involvement. High-level evidence for its routine use is lacking. Further analyses are required to identify patients who would potentially benefit from PORT.
Keywords: NSCLC; PORT; radiation therapy; resection; risk factors.