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J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2005 Jan;129(1):64-72.

Surgical resection of limited disease small cell lung cancer in the new era of platinum chemotherapy: Its time has come.

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Division of Thoracic Surgery, Department of Surgery, The Johns Hopkinds Medical Institutions, Baltimore, MD, USA.



Although resection is not the standard of care in treating small cell lung cancer, new platinum drugs and modern staging have allowed the role of surgery to be reevaluated.


We reviewed our institutional experience of 1415 patients with small cell lung cancer from 1976 to 2002 among whom 82 (6%) underwent surgery with curative intent.


Median age at surgery was 62 years, and small cell lung cancer of mixed morphology represented 14 of 82 (17%). Treatment consisted of surgery alone in 11% of cases (9/82), surgery with neoadjuvant therapy in 22% (18/82), and surgery with adjuvant therapy in 55% (45/82). Prophylactic cranial irradiation was given to 23% (19/82). The 5-year survival of the entire cohort was 42%. The 5-year survival of patients receiving adjuvant chemotherapy (n = 41) was significantly different according to whether patients had received platinum or nonplatinum regimens (68% vs 32.2%, P = .04). Among patients with stage I disease who received adjuvant chemotherapy (n = 24), the 5-year survivals for patients receiving platinum and nonplatinum chemotherapy were 86% and 42%, respectively ( P < .02). If patients who received either neoadjuvant or adjuvant therapy (n = 56) were considered, the 5-year survival was significantly better for platinum than for nonplatinum chemotherapy (62% vs 36%, P = .05). The 5-year survival was also better for those undergoing lobectomies (n = 52) than for those with limited resections (n = 15, 50% vs 20%, P = .03). Survival outcomes also differed by gender, with female patients having a 5-year survival advantage over male patients (60% vs 28%, P = .004).


These results support a reevaluation of the role of surgery in the multimodality therapy for small cell lung cancer, which currently includes only radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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