Original Article

Sublobar resection is associated with better perioperative outcomes in elderly patients with clinical stage I non-small cell lung cancer: a multicenter retrospective cohort study

Zhenrong Zhang, Hongxiang Feng, Heng Zhao, Jian Hu, Lunxu Liu, Yang Liu, Xiaofei Li, Lin Xu, Yin Li, Xike Lu, Xiangning Fu, Haiying Yang, Deruo Liu


Background: Sublobar resection has emerged as an alternative to lobectomy for management of early-stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, controversy remains as to whether it is adequate for elderly patients. The present study aimed to comparatively study the perioperative outcomes and overall survival of sublobar resection vs. lobectomy for management of elderly patients (≥65 years) with clinical stage I NSCLC.
Methods: This is a multicenter retrospective cohort study. Clinical stage I NSCLC patients who underwent lobar or sublobar resection (segmentectomy and wedge resection) at the Department of Thoracic Surgery of 10 tertiary hospitals between January 2014 and September 2017 were retrospectively reviewed from the national collaborative prospective lung cancer database (LinkDoc Technology Co, Ltd., Beijing, China). Clinical data on demographic and tumor characteristics, surgical details were collected. Perioperative outcomes and overall survival were analyzed by using propensity score matching to adjust for selection bias. Subgroup analysis was further carried out to explore the potential sources of heterogeneity.
Results: Among the 1,579 eligible patients, 1,164 (73.7%) underwent lobectomy and 415 (26.3%) underwent sublobar resection (106 segmentectomy and 309 wedge resection). Sublobar resection was more frequently performed in patients who were elder, had more comorbidities and smaller, left-sided adenocarcinoma (P<0.001). Propensity-matched analysis showed significant association of sublobar resection with less blood loss, shorter operation time, chest drainage and hospital stay, while with less lymph node removal when compared with lobectomy (P<0.001). Short term survival analysis showed comparable results even after adjusted in the matched analysis. Similar results were obtained when limiting patients to those aged >75 years, at pathologic stage I, and those who smoking or undergoing video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) or segmentectomy and lobectomy.
Conclusions: Sublobar resection was associated with significantly better perioperative outcomes without compromising short term survival in elderly patients with clinical stage I NSCLC. However, the importance of patient selection and management process, as well as accurate lymph node staging must be acknowledged when making the surgical decision (clinical registration number: NCT03429673).

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