Background. Routine lung cancer screening does not currently exist in the United States. Computed tomography can detect small cancers and may well be the screening choice in the future. Controversy exists, however, regarding the surgical management of these small lung cancers. Methods. The records of all patients were reviewed who underwent resection of solitary non-small cell lung cancers 1 cm or less in diameter from 1980 through 1999. Results. The study included 100 patients (56 men and 44 women) with a median age of 67 years (range 43 to 84 years). Lobectomy was performed in 71 patients, bilobectomy in 4, segmentectomy in 12, and wedge excision in 13. Ninety-four patients had complete mediastinal lymph node dissection. The cancer was an adenocarcinoma in 48 patients, squamous cell carcinoma in 26, bronchioloalveolar carcinoma in 19, large cell carcinoma in 4, adenosquamous cell carcinoma in 2, and undifferentiated in 1. Tumor diameter ranged from 3 to 10 mm. Seven patients had lymph node metastases (N1, 5 patients; N2, 2 patients). Postsurgical stage was IA in 92 patients, IB in 1, IIA in 5, and IIIA in 2. There were four operative deaths. Follow-up was complete in all patients and ranged from 4 to 214 months (median 43 months). Eighteen patients (18.0%) developed recurrent lung cancer. Overall and lung cancer-specific 5-year survivals were 64.1% and 85.4%, respectively. Patients who underwent lobectomy had significantly better survival and fewer recurrences than patients who had wedge excision or segmentectomy (p = 0.04). Conclusions. Because recurrent cancer and lymph node metastasis can occur in patients with non-small cell lung cancers 1 cm or less in size, lobectomy with lymph node dissection is warranted when medically possible.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine