Surgical treatment of Pancoast tumours

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid


Due to its localisation in the apex of the lung with invasion of the lower part of the brachial plexus, first ribs, vertebrae, subclavian vessels or stellate ganglion, a superior sulcus tumour causes characteristic symptoms, like arm or shoulder pain or Horner's syndrome. If rib invasion is the only feature, lysis of the rib must be evident on the chest radiograph; otherwise the tumour cannot be defined as a Pancoast tumour. It is important to adequately stage the tumour, because staging significantly influences survival. Survival is better for T3 than T4 tumours and mediastinal lymph node involvement has been found to be a negative prognostic factor. Also Horner's syndrome and incompleteness of resection worsen survival. The management of superior sulcus tumours has evolved over the past 50 years. Before 1950 it was considered to be inoperable and uniformly fatal. Shaw and Paulson introduced combined modality treatment and for many years, this combination of radiotherapy and surgery was the treatment of choice with a mean 5-year survival of approximately 30%. Postoperative radiotherapy or brachytherapy does not improve survival in patients with complete or incomplete resection. The tumour can be resected through the classic posterior Shaw-Paulson approach or the newer anterior transcervical approach, introduced by Dartevelle. This method facilitates better exposure of the extreme apex of the lung, brachial plexus and subclavian vessels. Regarding the extent of pulmonary resection, en bloc resection of the involved ribs with a lobectomy is recommended. Recent multimodality studies, involving chemoradiotherapy and surgical resection, show promising results regarding completeness of resection, local recurrence and survival, provided that appropriate staging has been carried out. However, careful patient selection and adequate perioperative management with protection of the bronchial stump or anastomosis are important to achieve reasonable rates of morbidity and mortality. As brain metastases remain one of the most common forms of relapse, further studies are needed to examine the role of prophylactic cranial irradiation in patients with complete resection. Also the addition of other chemotherapy agents or biologic agents such as angiogenesis inhibitors or tyrosine kinase inhibitors gives a new perspective in the treatment of Pancoast tumours.

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles