Therapeutic value of lymph node dissection for right middle lobe non-small-cell lung cancer

Hiroaki Kuroda, Yukinori Sakao, Mingyon Mun, Noriko Motoi, Yuichi Ishikawa, Ken Nakagawa, Yasushi Yatabe, Sakae Okumura


Background: Superior mediastinal and #11i lymph node (LN) metastases are adverse prognostic factors in patients with middle lobe lung cancer. We aimed to clarify the benefit of thorough lymphadenectomy by LN station or zone in middle lobe non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
Methods: Among 295 patients who underwent pulmonary resection and thorough lymphadenectomy for primary right middle lobe (RML) NSCLC at two institutions, we enrolled 68 patients (33 men, 35 women) and retrospectively studied their data. We divided each N1 location (i.e., #10, #11s and #11i) into N1(−)N2(+) and N1(+)N2(+) and divided the #12m location into N1(+)N2(−), N1(−)N2(+) and N1(+)N2(+).
Results: Interlobar node involvement was rare in pN1 NSCLC when compared with that in other N1 nodes. Lymph node dissection (LND) was beneficial when the hilar zone (HZ)/interlobar zone (IZ) LNs were located at the intermediate point of the upper zones (UZs) and subcarinal zones (SCZs), with the therapeutic benefit at the SCZ being 2.8-fold higher than that at the UZ and 9.7-fold higher than that at the lower zone (LZ). Furthermore, LND evidently had greater therapeutic value for the SCZ than the UZ, which was compatible with skip N2 metastases.
Conclusions: For middle lobe NSCLC, mediastinal LND should be considered a priority in the SCZ than in the UZ. Moreover, the HZ/IZ is central to unfavourable prognoses in patients with pN2 middle lobe NSCLC.