Send to

Choose Destination
J Thorac Oncol. 2007 Jul;2(7):603-12.

The IASLC Lung Cancer Staging Project: proposals for the revision of the N descriptors in the forthcoming seventh edition of the TNM classification for lung cancer.

Author information

Thoracic Service, Department of Surgery, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York 10021, USA.



Accurate staging of lymph node involvement is a critical aspect of the initial management of nonmetastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). We sought to determine whether the current N descriptors should be maintained or revised for the next edition of the international lung cancer staging system.


A retrospective international lung cancer database was developed and analyzed. Anatomical location of lymph node involvement was defined by the Naruke (for Japanese data) and American Thoracic Society (for non-Japanese data) nodal maps. Survival was calculated by the Kaplan-Meier method, and prognostic groups were assessed by Cox regression analysis.


Current N0 to N3 descriptors defined distinct prognostic groups for both clinical and pathologic staging. Exploratory analyses indicated that lymph node stations could be grouped together into six "zones": peripheral or hilar for N1, and upper or lower mediastinal, aortopulmonary, and subcarinal for N2 nodes. Among patients undergoing resection without induction therapy, there were three distinct prognostic groups: single-zone N1, multiple-zone N1 or single N2, and multiple-zone N2 disease. Nevertheless, there were insufficient data to determine whether the N descriptors should be subdivided (e.g., N1a, N1b, N2a, N2b).


Current N descriptors should be maintained in the NSCLC staging system. Prospective studies are needed to validate amalgamating lymph node stations into zones and subdividing N descriptors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center