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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 27

of 'Overview of the risk factors, pathology, and clinical manifestations of lung cancer'

Prospective comparison of radiologic, thoracoscopic, and pathologic staging in patients with early non-small cell lung cancer.
Roberts JR, Blum MG, Arildsen R, Drinkwater DC Jr, Christian KR, Powers TA, Merrill WH
Ann Thorac Surg. 1999;68(4):1154.
BACKGROUND: More accurate staging at the time of initial presentation could improve design of clinical trials and avoid inappropriate surgical decisions in individual patients. Preresection staging of patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is not straightforward, especially in patients with negative mediastinal nodes. The purpose of this study was to compare the results of radiologic, thoracoscopic, and pathologic staging in patients with NSCLC and negative mediastinoscopy.
METHODS: All patients with NSCLC underwent computed tomographic (CT) scanning before surgical staging with mediastinoscopy. Patients with negative mediastinoscopy then underwent thoracoscopic staging with examination of pleural surfaces, and identification of T (visceral and parietal pleural invasion, sampling of pleural fluid, and pleural lavage) and N (intraparenchymal and inferior mediastinal nodal sampling, if possible) stage descriptors before resection.
RESULTS: Thoracoscopy was more accurate than CT scanning in the staging of50 patients with early lung cancer (stages IA, IB, IIA, and IIB), especially as regards T stage. Further, thoracoscopic examination ruled out malignant pleural effusions in 7 (14%) patients with radiologically obvious effusions, and identified radiologically silent malignant pleural effusions in 3 (6%) patients. Chest wall invasion was accurately identified at thoracoscopy in most patients. Finally, 3 patients with T1 lower lobe lesions and negative mediastinoscopy were found to have involvement of inferior mediastinal nodes (level 8 or 9) at thoracoscopy. However, thoracoscopy did not allow sampling of aortopulmonary window nodes in some patients with bulky left upper lobe lesions.
CONCLUSIONS: Errors in thoracoscopic staging resulted in no inappropriate operations. However, errors in CT staging would have resulted in operations unlikely to help the patients, or would have inappropriately excluded patients from surgery. Thoracoscopic staging was more accurate than CT staging in this cohort of patients with NSCLC and negative mediastinoscopy.
Department of Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery, Vanderbilt University Hospital, Nashville, Tennessee 37232, USA. bob.roberts@mcmail.vanderbilt.edu