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Eur J Cardiothorac Surg. 2013 Jan;43(1):e17-23. doi: 10.1093/ejcts/ezs560. Epub 2012 Nov 4.

Impact of interstitial lung disease on short-term and long-term survival of patients undergoing surgery for non-small-cell lung cancer: analysis of risk factors.

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Thoracic Surgery Unit, University Hospital of Siena, Siena, Italy.



The study aimed to determine the impact of interstitial lung disease (ILD) on postoperative morbidity, mortality and long-term survival of patients with non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) undergoing pulmonary resection.


We performed a retrospective chart review of 775 consecutive patients who had undergone lung resection for NSCLC between 2000 and 2009. ILD, defined by medical history, physical examination and abnormalities compatible with bilateral lung fibrosis on high-resolution computed tomography, was diagnosed in 37 (4.8%) patients (ILD group). The remaining 738 patients were classified as non-ILD (control group). We also attempted to identify the predictive factors for early and late survival in patients with ILD following pulmonary resection.


There was no significant difference between the two groups in terms of age (69 vs 66 years), sex (79 vs 72% male), smoking history (93 vs 90% smokers), forced expiratory volume in 1 s % of predicted (89 vs 84%), predicted values of forced vital capacity (FVC)% (92 vs 94%), types of surgical resection and histology. Patients with ILD had a higher incidence of postoperative acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS; 13 vs 1.8%, P < 0.01) and higher postoperative mortality (8 vs 1.4%, P < 0.01). The overall 5-year survival rate was 52% in the ILD and 65% in the non-ILD patients, respectively (P = 0.019). In the ILD group, at the median follow-up of 26 months (range 4-119), 19 (51%) patients were still alive and 18 (49%) had died in the ILD group. The major cause of late death was respiratory failure due to the progression of fibrosis (n = 7, 39%). In the ILD group, lower preoperative FVC% (mean 77 vs 93%, P < 0.01) and lower diffusing capacity of the lung for carbon monoxide (DLCO%; 47 vs 62%; P < 0.01) were significantly associated with postoperative ARDS.


In conclusion, major lung resection in patients with NSCLC and ILD is associated with an increased postoperative morbidity and mortality. Patients with a low preoperative FVC% should be carefully assessed prior to undergoing surgery, particularly in the presence of a lower DLCO%. Long-term survival is significantly lower when compared with patients without ILD, but still achievable in a substantial subgroup. Thus, surgery can be offered to properly selected patients with lung cancer and ILD, keeping in mind the risk of respiratory failure during the evaluation of such patients.

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