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J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2001 Apr;121(4):657-67.

Sequential thoracic metastasectomy prolongs survival by re-establishing local control within the chest.

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Division of Thoracic Surgery, Brigham and Women's Hospital, 75 Francis Street, Boston, MA 02115, USA.



The value of sequential thoracic metastasectomies is unknown. We evaluate repeat metastasectomy for limited recurrences within the thorax.


From July 1988 to September 1998, 54 patients underwent 2 to 6 separate sequential procedures to excise metastases after recurrence isolated to the thorax. Kaplan-Meier survival and Cox modeling determined prognostic variables.


Thirty-three men and 21 women, 22 to 76 years underwent 2 (100%, n = 54), 3 (50%), 4 (22%), or 5 to 6 (11%) metastasectomies. Fifty-four percent of patients had carcinoma, 35% sarcoma, 9% germ cell, and 2% melanoma. There were no operative deaths; all late deaths occurred from cancer. Median follow-up was 48 months. Cumulative 5-year survival from the second procedure was 57%. After the second, third, fourth, and fifth procedures, respectively, permanent control was achieved in 15 (27%) of 54 patients, 5 (19%) of 27, 1 (8%) of 12, and 0 of 7. Recurrence amenable to additional surgery occurred in 27 (50%) of 54, 12 (44%) of 27, 6 (50%) of 12, and 1 (17%) of 6. Mean hazard for the development of unresectable recurrence increased from 0.21 after the second procedure to 0.91 after the fifth procedure. The 5-year survival for the 27 patients undergoing only 2 metastasectomies was 60% (median not yet reached), 33% for the 15 patients undergoing only 3 metastasectomies (median 34.7 months), and 38% for the 12 patients undergoing 4 or more (median 45.6 months). From the time a recurrence was declared unresectable, patients had a 19% 2-year survival (median 8 months).


Multiple attempts to re-establish intrathoracic control of metastatic disease is justified in carefully selected patients, but the magnitude of benefit decays with each subsequent attempt.

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