Comparative Effectiveness of a Lymph Node Collection Kit Versus Heightened Awareness on Lung Cancer Surgery Quality and Outcomes


Introduction: The adverse prognostic impact of poor pathologic nodal staging has stimulated efforts to heighten awareness of the problem through guidelines, without guidance on processes to overcome it. We compared heightened awareness (HA) of nodal staging quality versus a lymph node collection kit. Methods: We categorized curative-intent lung cancer resections from 2009 to 2020 in a population-based, nonrandomized stepped-wedge implementation study of both interventions, into preintervention baseline, HA, and kit subcohorts. We used differences in proportion and hazard ratios across the subcohorts to estimate the effect of the interventions on poor quality (nonexamination of nodes [pNX] or nonexamination of mediastinal lymph nodes) and attainment of quality recommendations of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, the Commission on Cancer, and the proposed complete resection definition of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer across the three cohorts. Results: Of 3734 resections, 39% were preintervention, 40% kit, and 21% HA cases. Cohort proportions were the following: pNX, 11% (baseline) versus 0% (kit) versus 9% (HA); nonexamination of mediastinal lymph nodes, 27% versus 1% versus 22%; Commission on Cancer benchmark attainment, 14% versus 77% versus 30%; International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer-defined complete resection, 11% versus 58% versus 24%; National Comprehensive Cancer Network attainment, 23% versus 79% versus 35% (p < 0.001 for all, except pNX rate baseline versus HA). Survival rate was significantly higher for both interventions compared with baseline (p < 0.0001). Conclusions: Resections with HA or the kit significantly improved surgical quality and outcomes, but the kit was more effective. We propose to conduct a prospective, institutional cluster-randomized clinical trial comparing both interventions.

Publication Title

Journal of Thoracic Oncology