Clinical Outcomes of Thoracoscopic Lobectomy for Patients With Clinical N0 and Pathologic N2 Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

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We compared the surgical outcomes in patients with clinical N0 and pathologic N2 (cN0-pN2) non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who underwent video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) lobectomy and open thoracotomy to evaluate the role of VATS lobectomy for cN0-pN2 disease.


Between March 2006 and August 2011, 1,456 patients with clinical N0 NSCLC disease underwent lobectomy with systematic node dissection (SND) at Shanghai Chest Hospital. Of those patients, 157 were shown to have cN0-pN2 NSCLC. Of those, 67 patients underwent VATS lobectomy, and 90 patients underwent open lobectomy. SND was performed in all 157 patients. Clinicopathologic factors, local recurrence rates, and survival rates were compared.


The two groups were similar in age, sex, and pulmonary function. The VATS approach was associated with significantly shorter chest tube duration and postoperative stay than was the thoracotomy approach. Operative mortality, morbidity, and recurrence did not differ between the two groups. There was no significant difference between the two types of operation in numbers of total lymph nodes removed (17.4 ± 6.1 in the VATS group vs 18.1 ± 7.2 in the open group, p = 0.78) and mediastinal lymph nodes removed (11.7 ± 5.6 in the VATS group vs 12.0 ± 5.1 in the open group, p = 0.84). Similarly, the two groups were not significantly different with regard to stations of total lymph nodes removed (7.6 ± 1.9 in the VATS group vs 7.8 ± 2.3 in the open group, p = 0.81) and mediastinal lymph nodes removed (4.5 ± 1.1 in the VATS group vs 4.7 ± 1.3 in the open group, p = 0.71). The rates of overall survival and disease-free 5-year survival were not significantly different between the two groups.


The clinical outcomes of thoracoscopic lobectomy were comparable to those of thoracotomy for patients with cN0-pN2 NSCLC. Single-station N2 is a good prognostic factor for disease-free survival in these patients.

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