Long-term survival after video-assisted thoracic surgery lobectomy for primary lung cancer

Kazumichi Yamamoto, Akihiro Ohsumi, Fumitsugu Kojima, Naoko Imanishi, Katsunari Matsuoka, Mitsuhiro Ueda, Yoshihiro Miyamoto
Annals of Thoracic Surgery 2010, 89 (2): 353-9

BACKGROUND: Despite its feasibility and safety, use of video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) lobectomy for malignancies has spread slowly during the past decade because no definitive conclusions have been reached regarding the oncologic validity of this approach for malignancies. Thus, the purpose of this study was to analyze the indications and long-term results of VATS major pulmonary resections for primary lung cancers.

METHODS: Of 502 patients who had surgical resections for primary lung cancers at the National Hospital Organization Himeji Medical Center from May 2000 to December 2003, the cases of the 325 patients who were originally scheduled for VATS major pulmonary resections (pneumonectomy, bilobectomy, lobectomy, and segmentectomy) were retrospectively reviewed. At this hospital, after an initial learning-curve period, indications for VATS were extended to all cases for which this approach was thought possible. For better analysis of long-term survival rates, patients whose follow-up periods were more than 5 years after surgery were analyzed.

RESULTS: Of the 325 scheduled VATS resections, 21 procedures (6.4%) were eventually converted to open thoracotomies. In-hospital death occurred in 1 patient (0.3%). The average follow-up period for all censored cases was 66 months. Overall and disease-free 5-year survival rates were 85% and 83% for stage Ia (192 cases), 69% and 64% for stage Ib (50 cases), 48% and 37% for stage II (27 cases), and 29% and 19% for stage III (50 cases), respectively (p < 0.0001). Patients who were operated on using the VATS approach increased year by year, especially after 2002, when indications for using this method were extended (ratio of VATS to total cases, approximately 50% in the first 2 years and more than 80% in the latter 2 years). Long-term survival rates during the entire study period were comparable, especially in early stage lung cancer cases.

CONCLUSIONS: Use of VATS major pulmonary resection for primary lung cancer is feasible, with long-term patient survival comparable to that of conventional thoracotomy. Thus, it is possible that this approach might become the standard in experienced surgical centers, especially for early stage lung cancer cases. Further investigation at multiple centers is required.

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