Invasive mediastinal staging for resected non–small cell lung cancer in a population-based cohort


Objectives: Invasive mediastinal nodal staging is recommended before curative-intent resection in patients with non–small cell lung cancer deemed at risk for mediastinal lymph node involvement. We evaluated the use and survival effect of preoperative invasive mediastinal nodal staging in a population-based non–small cell lung cancer cohort. Methods: We analyzed all curative-intent resections for non–small cell lung cancer from 2009 to 2018 in 11 hospitals in 4 contiguous Dartmouth Hospital Referral Regions, comparing patients who did not have invasive mediastinal nodal staging with those who did. Results: Preoperative invasive nodal staging was used in 22% of 2916 patients, including mediastinoscopy only in 13%, minimally invasive procedures only in 6%, and both approaches in 3%. Sixty-three percent of patients at risk for nodal disease (tumor size ≥3.0 cm/T2-T4; N1-N3 by computed tomography or positron-emission tomography-computerized tomography criterion) did not undergo invasive staging; among those who did not have invasive testing, 47% had at least 1 of the 3 clinical indications. Mediastinoscopy yielded a median of 3 lymph nodes and 2 nodal stations; 17% of mediastinoscopies and 31% of endobronchial ultrasound procedures yielded no lymph node material. Patients not invasively staged were more likely to have no nodes (6% vs 2%; P < .0001) and no mediastinal nodes (20% vs 11%; P < .0001) examined at surgery. Invasive staging was associated with significantly better survival (P = .0157). Conclusions: More than a decade after the 2001 American College of Surgeons Patient Care Evaluation report, preoperative invasive nodal staging remains underused and of variable quality, but was associated with survival benefit in high-risk patients.

Publication Title

Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery