Anatomic Segmentectomy for Stage I Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer in the Elderly

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Anatomic segmentectomy for stage I non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) offers the potential of surgical cure with preservation of lung function. This may be of particular importance in elderly NSCLC patients with declining cardiopulmonary status and a limited life expectancy.


The study compared outcomes of 78 elderly patients (aged > 75 years) with stage I NSCLC undergoing segmentectomy and 106 undergoing lobectomy for stage I NSCLC from 2002 to 2007. Primary outcome variables included perioperative morbidity and mortality, hospital course, recurrence patterns, and survival.


Age, gender, tumor histology, and surgical approach were similar between groups. Comorbidities were similar except for a higher incidence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes in segmentectomy patients. The tumors in the lobectomy group were significantly larger (3.5 vs 2.5 cm,p= 0.0001). Operative mortality was 1.3% for segmentectomy and 4.7% for lobectomy. Segmentectomy patients had fewer major complications (11.5% vs 25.5%,p= 0.02). There were no differences in median hospitalization (7 vs 6 days). The estimated overall survival at 2, 3, and 5 years was 76%, 69%, and 46% for segmentectomy patients and 68%, 59%, and 47% for lobectomy patients (p= 0.28). The 5-year disease-free survival was equivalent (segmentectomy, 49.8%; lobectomy, 45.5%;p= 0.80).


Anatomic segmentectomy can be performed safely in elderly patients with early-stage NSCLC. This approach is associated with reduced perioperative complications and comparable oncologic efficacy compared with lobectomy in older patients with a limited life expectancy.

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