Radical Treatment of Stage II Non–small-cell Lung Cancer With Nonsurgical Approaches: A Multi-institution Report of Outcomes

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Standard management of stage II non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is surgery, often followed by adjuvant chemotherapy. However, some patients do not undergo surgery for various reasons. We examined outcomes in this defined patient group.


We reviewed the records of patients with stage II NSCLC treated nonsurgically with curative intent from 2002 to 2012 across 3 academic cancer centers. Data collected included demographics, comorbidities, staging, treatments, and survival. The primary endpoint was overall survival (OS). We assessed factors associated with treatment choice and OS.


A total of 158 patients were included: the median age was 74 years (range, 50-91 years), 44% were female, and 68% had a performance status of 0 to 1. The stage II groupings of the patients were T2b-T3 N0 in 55% and N1 in 45%. The most common reasons for inoperability were inadequate pulmonary reserve (27%) and medical comorbidities (24%). All patients received radical radiotherapy (RT) (median, 60 Gy [range, 48-75 Gy]). Seventy-three percent received RT alone; 24% received concurrent and 3% sequential chemoradiotherapy (CRT). In multivariate analyses, CRT was less likely in older patients (≥ 70 years) (odds ratio [OR], 0.28; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.11-0.70; P = .006) and in patients with higher (> 5) Charlson comorbidity scores (OR, 0.34; 95% CI, 0.13-0.90; P = .03) or normal (< 10 × 109/L) white blood cell counts (OR, 0.26; 95% CI, 0.09-0.73; P = .01). At the time of our analysis, 74% have died. The median OS was 22.9 months (range, 17.1-26.6 months). Patients who had undergone CRT had a significantly longer median OS than those receiving RT alone (39.1 vs. 20.5 months; P = .0019), confirmed in multivariate analysis (hazard ratio, 0.38; 95% CI, 0.21-0.69; P = .001).


Nonsurgical approaches to management of stage II NSCLC are varied. Treatment with CRT was associated with significantly longer survival compared with RT alone. A randomized trial may be warranted.


The optimal nonoperative management of stage II non–small-cell lung cancer is undefined, with limited data to guide decision-making in this setting. We reviewed treatment patterns and outcomes of 158 patients in this defined group. The majority (73%) received radical radiotherapy alone; however, those treated with combined-modality chemoradiation had significantly longer median survival (39.1 vs. 20.5 months; P = .0019). A randomized trial is warranted.

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