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J Spinal Cord Med. 2006;29(2):133-7.

Pulmonary resection for non-small cell lung cancer in patients with prior spinal cord injury.

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Department of Surgery, Saint Louis University Health Sciences Center, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.



We sought to determine the clinical course of patients with spinal cord injury (SCI) who subsequently developed bronchogenic carcinoma and underwent pulmonary resection.


A nationwide retrospective study was conducted of all veterans at Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers for fiscal years 1993-2002 who were diagnosed with SCI, subsequently developed non-small cell lung cancer, and were surgically treated with curative intent. Inclusion criteria included American Spinal Injury Association type A injury (complete loss of neural function distal to the injury site) and traumatic etiology. Data were compiled from national Department of Veterans Affairs data sets and supplemented by operative reports, pathology reports, progress notes, and discharge summaries.


Seven patients met the inclusion/exclusion criteria and were considered evaluable. Five (71%) had one or more comorbid conditions in addition to their SCIs. All 7 underwent pulmonary lobectomy. Postoperative complications occurred in 4 patients (57%). Two patients died postoperatively on days 29 and 499, yielding a 30-day mortality rate of 14% and an in-hospital mortality rate of 29%.


This seems to be the only case study in the English language literature on this topic. Patients with SCI who had resectable lung cancer had a high incidence of comorbid conditions. Those who underwent curative-intent surgery had high morbidity and mortality rates. Available evidence suggests that SCI should be considered a risk factor for adverse outcomes in major surgery of all types, including operations for primary lung cancer.

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