Surgical treatment of primary lung cancer with synchronous brain metastases

Peter S. Billing, Daniel L. Miller, Mark S. Allen, Claude Deschamps, Victor F. Trastek, Peter C. Pairolero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

161 Scopus citations


Objectives: The role of surgical resection for brain metastases from non-small cell lung cancer is evolving. Although resection of primary lung cancer and metachronous brain metastases is superior to other treatment modalities in prolonging survival and disease-free interval, resection of the primary non-small cell lung cancer and synchronous brain metastases is controversial. Methods: From January 1975 to December 1997, 220 patients underwent surgical treatment for brain metastases from non-small cell lung cancer at our institution. Twenty-eight (12.7%) of these patients underwent surgical resection of synchronous brain metastases and the primary non-small cell lung cancer. Results: The group comprised 18 men and 10 women. Median age was 57 years (range 35-71 years). Twenty-two (78.6%) patients had neurologic symptoms. Craniotomy was performed first in all 28 patients. Median time between craniotomy and thoracotomy was 14 days (range 4-840 days). Pneumonectomy was performed in 4 patients, bilobectomy in 4, lobectomy in 18, and wedge excision in 2. Postoperative complications developed in 6 (21.4%) patients. Cell type was adenocarcinoma in 11 patients, squamous cell carcinoma in 9, and large cell carcinoma in 8. After pulmonary resection, 17 patients had no evidence of lymph node metastases (N0), 5 had hilar metastases (N1), and 6 had mediastinal metastases (N2). Twenty-four (85.7%) patients received postoperative adjuvant therapy. Follow-up was complete in all patients for a median of 24 months (range 2-104 months). Median survival was 24 months (range 2-104). Survival at 1, 2, and 5 years was 64.3%, 54.0%, and 21.4%, respectively. The presence of thoracic lymph node metastases (N1 or N2) significantly affected 5-year survival (P = .001). Conclusion: Although the overall survival for patients who have brain metastases from non-small cell lung cancer is poor, surgical resection may prove beneficial in a select group of patients with synchronous brain metastases and lung cancer without lymph node metastases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)548-553
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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