A guide for managing patients with stage I NSCLC: deciding between lobectomy, segmentectomy, wedge, SBRT and ablation-part 3: systematic review of evidence regarding surgery in compromised patients or specific tumors

J Thorac Dis. 2022 Jun;14(6):2387-2411. doi: 10.21037/jtd-21-1825.


Background: Clinical decision-making for patients with stage I lung cancer is complex. It involves multiple options [lobectomy, segmentectomy, wedge, stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT), thermal ablation], weighing multiple outcomes (e.g., short-, intermediate-, long-term) and multiple aspects of each (e.g., magnitude of a difference, the degree of confidence in the evidence, and the applicability to the patient and setting at hand). A structure is needed to summarize the relevant evidence for an individual patient and to identify which outcomes have the greatest impact on the decision-making.

Methods: A PubMed systematic review from 2000-2021 of outcomes after lobectomy, segmentectomy and wedge resection in older patients, patients with limited pulmonary reserve and favorable tumors is the focus of this paper. Evidence was abstracted from randomized trials and non-randomized comparisons (NRCs) with adjustment for confounders. The analysis involved careful assessment, including characteristics of patients, settings, residual confounding etc. to expose degrees of uncertainty and applicability to individual patients. Evidence is summarized that provides an at-a-glance overall impression as well as the ability to delve into layers of details of the patients, settings and treatments involved.

Results: In older patients, perioperative mortality is minimally altered by resection extent and only slightly affected by increasing age; sublobar resection may slightly decrease morbidity. Long-term outcomes are worse after lesser resection; the difference is slightly attenuated with increasing age. Reported short-term outcomes are quite acceptable in (selected) patients with severely limited pulmonary reserve, not clearly altered by resection extent but substantially improved by a minimally invasive approach. Quality-of-life (QOL) and impact on pulmonary function hasn't been well studied, but there appears to be little difference by resection extent in older or compromised patients. Patient selection is paramount but not well defined. Ground-glass and screen-detected tumors exhibit favorable long-term outcomes regardless of resection extent; however solid tumors <1 cm are not a reliably favorable group.

Conclusions: A systematic, comprehensive summary of evidence regarding resection extent in compromised patients and favorable tumors with attention to aspects of applicability, uncertainty and effect modifiers provides a foundation for a framework for individualized decision-making.

Keywords: Lung cancer; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); ground glass nodule; older age; surgery.

Publication types

  • Review