Improved Survival Associated with Neoadjuvant Chemoradiation in Patients with Clinical Stage IIIA(N2) Non–Small-Cell Lung Cancer

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Optimal management of clinical stage IIIA-N2 non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is controversial. This study examines whether neoadjuvant chemoradiation plus surgery improves survival rates when compared with other recommended treatment strategies.


Adult patients from the National Cancer Database, with clinical stage IIIA-N2 disease definitively treated between 1998 and 2004 at American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer accredited facilities, were included in the study. Treatment was defined as neoadjuvant chemoradiation plus either lobectomy (NeoCRT+L) or pneumonectomy (NeoCRT+P), lobectomy plus adjuvant therapy (L+AT), pneumonectomy plus adjuvant therapy (P+AT), and concurrent chemoradiation (CRT). Median follow-up and overall survival (OS) were defined from date of diagnosis to last contact. Five-year OS was estimated using Kaplan–Meier methods. Cox proportional hazard regression was used to estimate hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals (CIs), adjusting for sociodemographic, clinical, and facility characteristics.


Median follow-up was 11.8 months for 11,242 eligible patients. Five-year OS was 33.5%, 20.7%, 20.3%, 13.35%, and 10.9% for NeoCRT+L, NeoCRT+P, L+AT, P+AT, and CRT, respectively (p < 0.0001). On multivariable analysis, the estimated hazard ratio was 0.51 (CI: 0.45–0.58) for NeoCRT+L; 0.77 (0.63–0.95) for NeoCRT+P; 0.66 (0.59–0.75) for L+AT; 0.69 (0.54–0.88) for P+AT; and 1.0 (reference) for the CRT group. Comorbidity did not attenuate the relationship between treatment and survival.


This large study demonstrates that patients with clinical stage IIIA-N2 NSCLC, who underwent neoadjuvant chemoradiation followed by lobectomy, were associated with an improved survival.

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