Article Abstract

Multimodality therapy in subclassified stage IIIA–N2 non-small cell lung cancer patients according to the Robinson classification: heterogeneity and management

Authors: Hans-Stefan Hofmann, Jan Braess, Susanne Leipelt, Michael Allgäuer, Monika Klinkhammer-Schalke, Tamas Szoeke, Christian Grosser, Michael Pfeifer, Michael Ried


Background: Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with mediastinal lymph node involvement (N2) is a heterogeneous entity. The objective of this analysis is to investigate the results of treatment strategies for N2-positive patients.
Methods: Retrospective study (2009–2014) of 104 consecutive patients with stage IIIA–N2 NSCLC classified according to the Robinson classification (IIIA1–IIIA4) and treated within a multimodality treatment regime.
Results: The Robinson subgroups were: IIIA1 (n=27), IIIA3 (n=60) and IIIA4 (n=17). We had no stage IIIA2 samples because we did not perform an intraoperative frozen section of lymph nodes. Surgical resection with systematic lymph node dissection was performed in all patients with stage IIIA1 (n=27). After chemotherapy or chemo-/radiotherapy, 53.3% of patients in stage IIIA3 (n=32) and 11.7% of patients in stage IIIA4 (n=2) underwent surgery with curative intention. R0 was achieved in 92.6% in stage IIIA1, 93.8% in stage IIIA3 and 100% in stage IIIA4. The 30-day mortality was 3.2%. The overall median survival was 31.7 months (5-year survival was 30.5%). There were no significant differences (P=0.583) in survival regarding the Robinson subgroups. Patients who underwent tumour resection had significantly better median survival (39.8 vs. 19.6 months; P=0.014) compared to patients treated conservatively. Deviation from the interdisciplinary recommended therapy (12%) led to a reduced median survival (11.4 vs. 31.8 months; P=0.137).
Conclusions: N2-patients should be subclassified according to the Robinson classification and discussed in the tumour board. Surgical resection should be recommended in specific cases of N2-disease (non-bulky, sensitivity to systemic treatment).