Management of Multifocal Lung Cancer: Results of a Survey

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Multifocal lung cancer is an increasingly common clinical scenario, but there is lack of high-level evidence for its optimal treatment. Thus, we surveyed members of the interdisciplinary International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer on their therapeutic approaches and analyzed the resultant practice patterns.


We described the clinical scenario of an otherwise healthy 60-year-old man with bilateral pulmonary nodules and asked the 6373 members of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer whether they would recommend surgery, and if so, the extent of surgery. We also asked what other measures would be recommended to complete the staging and whether radiation therapy or chemotherapy would be suggested.


We received 221 responses (response rate 3.5%) from multiple specialists. Most respondents (140 [63%]) recommended surgery for this scenario. Surgeons were significantly more likely to recommend surgery than were those in other specialties. Of those who recommended surgery, most would obtain a PET/CT scan to rule out distant metastases and a magnetic resonance imaging scan to rule out brain metastases; but in the absence of radiographic lymph node involvement, most would not stage the mediastinum by bronchoscopy or mediastinoscopy before resection. When surgery was not recommended or declined, respondents commonly recommended radiation.


This survey suggests that therapeutic recommendations for multifocal lung cancer are influenced to a large extent by physicians’ specialty training, probably because of the lack of high-level evidence for its standard treatment. Ongoing systematic and multidisciplinary approaches with robust short-term and long-term patient outcomes may improve the quality of evidence for the optimal management of this clinical entity.

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