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Ann Thorac Surg. 1998 Apr;65(4):909-12.

Long-term results after repeated surgical removal of pulmonary metastases.

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Department of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery, University of Vienna Medical School, Austria.



Although surgical resection is accepted widely as first-line therapy for pulmonary metastases, few data exist on the surgical treatment of recurrent pulmonary metastatic disease. In a retrospective study, we analyzed patients who were operated on repeatedly for recurrent metastatic disease of the lung with curative intent over a 20-year period.


From 1973 to 1993, 396 metastasectomies were performed in 330 patients. The study population included patients with any histologic tumor type who had undergone at least two (range, 2 to 4) complete surgical procedures because of recurrent metastatic disease. Surgical and functional resectability of the recurrent lung metastases and control of the primary lesion served as objective criteria for reoperation. A subgroup of 35 patients that included patients with histologic findings such as epithelial cancer and osteosarcoma then was analyzed retrospectively to calculate prognosis and define selection criteria for repeated pulmonary metastasectomy.


The 5- and 10-year survival rates after the first metastasectomy were 48% and 28%, respectively. The overall median survival was 60 months. A mean disease-free interval (calculated for all intervals, with a minimum of two) of greater than 1 year was significantly associated with a survival advantage beyond the last operation. Univariate analysis failed to show size, number, increase or decrease in number or size, or distribution of metastases as factors related significantly to survival.


Although patients with different histologic tumor types were included, the study population appeared to be homogeneous in terms of survival benefit and prognostic factors, and it probably represented the selection of biologically favorable tumors in which histology, size, number, and laterality are of minor importance. We conclude that patients who are persistently free of disease at the primary location but who have recurrent, resectable metastatic disease of the lung are likely to benefit from operation a second, third, or even fourth time.

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