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Cancer. 2009 Nov 15;115(22):5218-27. doi: 10.1002/cncr.24625.

Local recurrence after surgery for early stage lung cancer: an 11-year experience with 975 patients.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.



The objective of the current study was to evaluate the actuarial risk of local failure (LF) after surgery for stage I to II nonsmall cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and assess surgical and pathologic factors affecting this risk.


The records, including pertinent radiologic studies, of all patients who underwent surgery for T1 to T2, N0 to N1 NSCLC at Duke University between 1995 and 2005 were reviewed. Risks of disease recurrence were estimated using the Kaplan-Meier method. A multivariate Cox regression analysis assessed factors associated with LF in the entire cohort and a subgroup undergoing optimal surgery for stage IB to II disease.


For all 975 consecutive patients, the 5-year actuarial risk of local and/or distant disease recurrence was 36%. First sites of failure were local only (25%), local and distant (29%), and distant only (46%). The 5-year actuarial risk of LF was 23%. On multivariate analysis, squamous/large cell histology (hazards ratio [HR], 1.98), stage > IA (HR, 2.02), and sublobar resections (HR, 1.99) were found to be independently associated with a higher risk of LF. For the subset of patients (n = 445) undergoing at least a lobectomy with negative surgical margins and currently considered for adjuvant chemotherapy (stage IB-II disease), the 5-year actuarial risk of LF was 27%. Within this subgroup, squamous/large cell histology (HR, 2.5) and lymphovascular space invasion (HR, 1.74) were associated with a higher risk of LF. The 5-year rate of LF was 13%, 32%, and 47%, respectively, with 0, 1, or 2 risk factors.


Greater than half of disease recurrences after surgery for early stage NSCLC involved local sites. Pathologic factors may help to distinguish those patients at highest risk.

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