Radiotherapy is recommended as primary local therapy for inoperable patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). We hypothesized that selected patients with advanced emphysema could be candidates for surgery and improved functional outcome might result in addition to low mortality and morbidity and successful cancer control when sublobar resection in a lung volume reduction surgery (LVRS) concept is applied.
All patients with NSCLC and severe emphysema who underwent cancer resection in a LVRS concept between 2003 and 2015 were included for analysis. Postoperative 90-day mortality, complications, survival and lung function with forced expiratory volume in one second pre-operatively and three months postoperatively served as endpoints.
Fourteen patients were included. Three procedures were bilateral and eleven unilateral, eight have been performed with thoracoscopy and six with conversion to an open procedure due to adhesions. In ten patients, tumor resection was atypical and in four patients an anatomic segmentectomy was performed. All patients had lung volume reduction. Prolonged air leak occurred in three patients. Perioperative 90-mortality was zero. Median pre-operative forced expiratory volume in one second was 32.5% and increased to 37% (P=0.002) 3 months following surgery. Three and 5-year survival rates were 50% and 35%, respectively.
Sublobar resection of NSCLC combined with LVRS in patients with severely impaired lung function due to emphysema can be performed with low mortality and morbidity making it an alternative treatment modality to radiotherapy. This approach allows cancer resection in marginal patients and improves emphysema symptoms simultaneously.