Though lobectomy is the long-held standard of care for people with early stage non–small cell lung cancer, a noninferiority study shows little difference in perioperative morbidity and mortality outcomes when sublobar resections are performed instead.
The study, published online in, compared results from 697 functionally and physically fit patients with stage I cancer randomized over a 10-year period to lobar resection (n = 357) or sublobar resection (n = 340). Patients were analyzed for morbidity and mortality outcomes at 30 and 90 days post surgery. , of Weill Cornell Medicine–New York Presbyterian Hospital, led the study as a post hoc, exploratory analysis of , a multinational phase 3 trial whose primary outcome – still pending – is disease-free survival associated with the two different surgeries.
Dr. Altorki and his colleagues found 30- and 90-day survival to be comparable between surgery types. At 30 days, six patients in the study had died; four in the lobar resection group and two in the sublobar group (1.1% and 0.6%). At 90 days, 10 patients had died, or 1.4% of the cohort; 6 following lobar resection and 4 following sublobar resection. The between-group difference at 30 days was 0.5% (95% confidence interval, –1.1 to 2.3) and at 90 days remained 0.5% (95% CI, –1.5 to 2.6).
Similar rates of serious (grade 3 or worse) adverse advents were seen between surgery groups at 15% and 14%, respectively, and no differences were seen for cardiac or pulmonary complications. In the study, the type of sublobar approach was left to the surgeon’s discretion, and a majority of the sublobar procedures (59%) were found to comprise wedge resections, with the rest segmentectomies. Dr. Altorki and colleagues noted the high rate of wedge resections as striking, because “conventional wisdom … holds that an anatomical segmentectomy, involving individual ligation of segmental vessels and bronchi and wider parenchymal resection, is oncologically superior to nonanatomical wedge resections.” In their analysis the researchers conceded that a three-arm trial allocating patients to lobectomy, segmentectomy, or wedge resection “would have answered more precisely the posited research question,” but said that the sample size needed would have been too large.
The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Altorki reported a research grant from AstraZeneca unrelated to the study; two more coauthors disclosed funding from pharmaceutical or device manufacturers, and an additional 17 coauthors listed no competing interests.
SOURCE: Altorki NK et al. Lancet Respir Med. 2018 Nov 12. .