More frequent surveillance following lung cancer resection is not associated with improved survival: A nationally representative cohort study

Timothy L. McMurry, George J. Stukenborg, Larry G. Kessler, Graham A. Colditz, Melisa L. Wong, Amanda B. Francescatti, David R. Jones, Jessica R. Schumacher, Caprice C. Greenberg, George J. Chang, David P. Winchester, Daniel P. McKellar, Benjamin D. Kozower

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Objective: To evaluate whether an association exists between the intensity of surveillance following surgical resection for non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and survival. Background: Surveillance guidelines following surgical resection of NSCLC vary widely and are based on expert opinion and limited evidence. Methods: A Special Study of the National Cancer Database randomly selected stage I to III NSCLC patients for data reabstraction. For patients diagnosed between 2006 and 2007 and followed for 5 years through 2012, registrars documented all postsurgical imaging with indication (routine surveillance, new symptoms), recurrence, new primary cancers, and survival, with 5-year follow-up. Patients were placed into surveillance groups according to existing guidelines (3-month, 6-month, annual). Overall survival and survival after recurrence were analyzed using Cox Proportional Hazards Models. Results: A total of 4463 patients were surveilled with computed tomography scans; these patients were grouped based on time from surgery to first surveillance. Groups were similar with respect to age, sex, comorbidities, surgical procedure, and histology. Higher-stage patients received more surveillance. More frequent surveillance was not associated with longer risk-adjusted overall survival [hazard ratio for 6-month: 1.16 (0.99, 1.36) and annual: 1.06 (0.86–1.31) vs 3-month; P value 0.14]. More frequent imaging was also not associated with postrecurrence survival [hazard ratio: 1.02/month since imaging (0.99–1.04); P value 0.43]. Conclusions: These nationally representative data provide evidence that more frequent postsurgical surveillance is not associated with improved survival. As the number of lung cancer survivors increases over the next decade, surveillance is an increasingly important major health care concern and expenditure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)632-639
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Computed tomography
  • Non–small cell lung cancer
  • Screening
  • Surveillance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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