Sublobar resection is comparable to lobectomy for screen-detected lung cancer

Mohamed K. Kamel, Benjamin Lee, Sebron W. Harrison, Jeffrey L. Port, Nasser K. Altorki, Brendon M. Stiles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Objective: Sublobar resection is frequently offered to patients with small, peripheral lung cancers, despite the lack of outcome data from ongoing randomized clinical trials. Sublobar resection may be a particularly attractive surgical strategy for screen-detected lung cancers, which have been suggested to be less biologically aggressive than cancers detected by other means. Using prospective data collected from patients undergoing surgery in the National Lung Screening Trial, we sought to determine whether extent of resection affected survival for patients with screen-detected lung cancer. Methods: The National Lung Screening Trial database was queried for patients who underwent surgical resection for confirmed lung cancer. Propensity score matching analysis (lobectomy vs sublobar resection) was done (nearest neighbor, 1:1, matching with no replacement, caliper 0.2). Demographics, clinicopathologic and perioperative outcomes, and long-term survival were compared in the entire cohort and in the propensity-matched groups. Multivariable logistic regression analysis was done to identify factors associated with increased postoperative morbidity or mortality. Results: We identified 1029 patients who underwent resection for lung cancer in the National Lung Screening Trial, including 821 patients (80%) who had lobectomy and 166 patients (16%) who had sublobar resection, predominantly wedge resection (n = 114, 69% of sublobar resection). Patients who underwent sublobar resection were more likely to be female (53% vs 41%, P = .004) and had smaller tumors (1.5 cm vs 2 cm, P < .001). The sublobar resection group had fewer postoperative complications (22% vs 32%, P = .010) and fewer cardiac complications (4% vs 9%, P = .033). For stage I patients undergoing sublobar resection, there was no difference in 5-year overall survival (77% for both groups, P = .89) or cancer-specific survival (83% for both groups, P = .96) compared with patients undergoing lobectomy. On multivariable logistic regression analysis, sublobar resection was the only factor associated with lower postoperative morbidity/mortality (odds ratio, 0.63; 95% confidence interval, 0.40-0.98). To compare surgical strategies in balanced patient populations, we propensity matched 127 patients from each group undergoing sublobar resection and lobectomy. There were no differences in demographics or clinical and tumor characteristics among matched groups. There was again no difference in 5-year overall survival (71% vs 65%, P = .40) or cancer-specific survival (75% vs 73%, P = .89) for patients undergoing lobectomy and sublobar resection, respectively. Conclusions: For patients with screen-detected lung cancer, sublobar resection confers survival similar to lobectomy. By decreasing perioperative complications and potentially preserving lung function, sublobar resection may provide distinct advantages in a screened patient cohort.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1907-1915
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • NLST
  • limited resection
  • lobectomy
  • lung cancer
  • screening
  • sublobar resection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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