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Ann Thorac Surg. 2001 Sep;72(3):885-8.

Induction chemotherapy increases perioperative complications in patients undergoing resection for non-small cell lung cancer.

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Department of Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery, Vanderbilt University Hospital, Nashville, Tennessee 37232, USA.



Neoadjuvant chemotherapy before resection is the standard of care for stage IIIA non-small cell lung cancer in many institutions. Further, neoadjuvant therapy is being studied in earlier stage lung cancer and may be applied more broadly in the future. There is little information about the effect of preoperative chemotherapy on the perioperative complications and mortality after lung resection.


All patients undergoing anatomic resection after neoadjuvant chemotherapy by a single surgeon at a single institution were compared with patients undergoing similar resections without preoperative chemotherapy. Complications were analyzed as life-threatening (pneumonia, emergency surgery, transfer to the intensive care unit, or intubation), major (prolonging hospital stay but not necessarily dangerous), and minor. The incidence of life-threatening complications, major complications, reintubation, tracheostomy, and mortality were analyzed to determine whether neoadjuvant chemotherapy might have an effect on these complications. Mortality was defined as hospital mortality. Two-tailed Student's t test was used to analyze differences in means and chi2 to determine differences in proportions. Differences less than 0.05 were considered significant.


Thirty-four patients underwent resection after neoadjuvant chemotherapy, and 67 patients underwent resection without preoperative therapy. No differences between the two groups in age, pulmonary function, or comorbid diseases were found. The patients receiving chemotherapy did have a more advanced stage (2.52 versus 1.55, p < 0.0001). Striking increases were found in incidence of life-threatening complications (6.0% versus 26.5%, p = 0.0036), major complications (19.4% versus 47.1%, p = 0.0037), reintubation (3.0% versus 17.6%, p = 0.0093), and tracheostomy (0% versus 11.8%, p = 0.0042) in those patients who received preoperative chemotherapy. There was no hospital mortality. However, 2 (neoadjuvant) patients died within 90 days after discharge from the hospital of pneumonia and pulmonary embolus. This difference was also significant (0% versus 5.89%, p = 0.045).


Neoadjuvant carboplatin and Taxol increased the perioperative life-threatening complications in this cohort of patients compared with a similar cohort undergoing operations by the same surgeon in the same institution. The most common life-threatening complication in patients receiving induction chemotherapy was the failure to respond to antibiotics given for pneumonia. Strategies to prevent these complications will be important, especially if chemotherapy before resection becomes the standard for earlier stages of non-small cell lung cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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