The role of postoperative mediastinal radiotherapy in completely resected non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and pathological N2 disease is controversial. In clinical practice, not all lung cancer patients with histologically confirmed N2 disease and a high risk for local recurrence are able to undergo postoperative concurrent radio/chemotherapy due to their physical condition or postoperative morbidities. Mediastinal radiotherapy is less compromising than a combination of radio/chemotherapy and seems likely to be tolerable for limited patients to achieve better local tumor control.Materials and Methods
All patients included in this retrospective analysis were excluded from postoperative adjuvant combination chemo/radiotherapy due to their comorbidity, advanced age, or a complicated postoperative course. Three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy of the mediastinal lymph node stations (mean dose: 50 Gy; range: 50–54 Gy) in patients with R0 resection, additional boost of 10 Gy in patients with R1 or R2 resection, was performed postoperatively.Results
A total of 110 patients were included in this analysis. Mean survival was 25.5 ± 19.2 months. The 1-, 3-, and 5-year survival was 75.4, 38.7, and 26.2%, respectively. Postoperative complications and the development of distant metastases did not correlate (p = 0.7). Distant metastases proved to be a significant prognostic factor of survival (p < 0.0001). Local recurrence was seen in a total of three patients (2.7%). Five-year survival of patients developing major postoperative complications was significantly inferior (p = 0.04) to those without postoperative complications. The extent of surgery had a significant impact on survival—5-year survival after lobectomy was significantly longer than after pneumonectomy (p = 0.029). R1 resection had no significant impact on the survival rates (p = 0.67).Discussion
Stage III-N2 NSCLC patients with multiple comorbidities or a complicated postoperative course after surgery may benefit from modern mediastinal radiotherapy. Surgery and postoperative mediastinal radiotherapy can achieve local tumor control. Distant metastases have the highest impact on the prognosis. Pneumonectomy, however, should be avoided in stage III NSCLC, when possible.