Long-term Survival After Surgery Compared With Concurrent Chemoradiation for Node-negative Small Cell Lung Cancer

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To determine whether surgery with adjuvant chemotherapy offers a survival advantage over concurrent chemoradiation for patients with cT1-2N0M0 small cell lung cancer (SCLC).


Although surgery with adjuvant chemotherapy is the recommended treatment for patients with cT1-2N0M0 SCLC per international guidelines, there have been no prospective or retrospective studies evaluating the impact of surgery versus optimal medical management for cT1-2N0M0 SCLC.


Outcomes of patients with cT1-2N0M0 SCLC who underwent surgery with adjuvant chemotherapy or concurrent chemoradiation in the National Cancer Data Base (2003–2011) were evaluated using Cox proportional hazards analyses and propensity-score-matched analyses.


During the study period, 681 (30%) patients underwent surgery with adjuvant chemotherapy and 1620 (70%) underwent concurrent chemoradiation. After propensity-score matching, all 14 covariates were well balanced between the surgery (n = 501) and concurrent chemoradiation (n = 501) groups. Surgery was associated with a higher overall survival (OS) than concurrent chemoradiation (5-year OS 47.6% vs 29.8%, P < 0.01). To minimize selection bias due to comorbidities, we limited the propensity-matched analysis to 492 patients with no comorbidities; surgery remained associated with a higher OS than concurrent chemoradiation (5-year OS 49.2% vs 32.5%, P < 0.01).


In a national analysis, surgery with adjuvant chemotherapy was used in the minority of patients for early stage SCLC. Surgery with adjuvant chemotherapy for node-negative SCLC was associated with improved long-term survival when compared to concurrent chemoradiation. These results suggest a significant underuse of surgery among patients with early stage SCLC and support an increased role of surgery in multimodality therapy for cT1-2N0M0 SCLC.

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