Background: Patients with stage II non-small cell lung carcinoma represent a group with varying 5-year survival rates. The influence of specific types of lymph node involvement on survival was investigated.
Methods: Of 2,009 patients operated on from 1977 through 1993, the cases of 391 patients with pathologic T2 N1 M0 disease were reviewed. The N1 status was refined into lymph node involvement by direct extension or by metastases in lobar or hilar lymph nodes.
Results: The cumulative 5-year survival rate of all hospital survivors (n = 369) was 37.8%. The 5-year survival rate of patients with lobar metastases was superior to that of patients with hilar metastases (57.3% versus 30.3%; p = 0.0028) and that of patients with lymph node involvement by direct extension (57.3% versus 39.1%; p = 0.03). The survival rate did not differ between those with hilar metastases and those with direct extension. Survival was significantly poorer in patients with visceral pleural involvement, in patients with adenocarcinoma, and in patients older than 60 years. Survival was not related to sex, type of resection, central growth, or tumor size.
Conclusions: Survival differs according to the type of lymph node involvement: lobar lymph node metastasis seems to be an early stage of the disease, whereas hilar lymph node metastasis represents a more advanced form. However, in T2 N1 M0 disease, other factors besides nodal status also seem to play an important role in postoperative survival.