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J Thorac Oncol. 2011 Apr;6(4):757-61. doi: 10.1097/JTO.0b013e31821038c0.

How well does the new lung cancer staging system predict for local/regional recurrence after surgery?: A comparison of the TNM 6 and 7 systems.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC 27710, USA.



To evaluate how well the tumor, node, metastasis (TNM) 6 and TNM 7 staging systems predict rates of local/regional recurrence (LRR) after surgery alone for non-small cell lung cancer.


All patients who underwent surgery for non-small cell lung cancer at Duke between 1995 and 2005 were reviewed. Those undergoing sublobar resections, with positive margins or involvement of the chest wall, or those who received any chemotherapy or radiation therapy (RT) were excluded. Disease recurrence at the surgical margin, or within ipsilateral hilar and/or mediastinal lymph nodes, was considered as a LRR. Stage was assigned based on both TNM 6 and TNM 7. Rates of LRR were estimated using the Kaplan-Meier method. A Cox regression analysis evaluated the hazard ratio of LRR by stage within TNM 6 and TNM 7.


A total of 709 patients were eligible for the analysis. Median follow-up was 32 months. For all patients, the 5-year actuarial risk of LRR was 23%. Conversion from TNM 6 to TNM 7 resulted in 21% stage migration (upstaging in 13%; downstaging in 8%). Five-year rates of LRR for stages IA, IB, IIA, IIB, and IIIA disease using TNM 6 were 16%, 26%, 43%, 35%, and 40%, respectively. Using TNM 7, corresponding rates were 16%, 23%, 37%, 39%, and 30%, respectively. The hazard ratios for LRR were statistically different for IA and IB in both TNM 6 and 7 but were also different for IB and IIA in TNM 7.


LRR risk increases monotonically for stages IA to IIB in the new TNM 7 system. This information might be valuable when designing future studies of postoperative RT.

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