Salvage surgery for recurrent or persistent tumour after radical (chemo)radiotherapy for locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer: a systematic review

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Background: Once recurrent or persistent locoregional tumour after radical chemoradiotherapy (CRT) for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is identified, few curative-intent treatment options are available. Selected patients might benefit from surgical salvage. We performed a systematic review of the available literature for this emerging treatment option. Methods: A systematic literature search was performed based on the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) statement. Publications about persistent or (locoregional) recurrent disease after radical/definitive CRT for locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer were identified. Results: Eight full papers were found, representing 158 patients. All were retrospective series and data were heterogeneous: definition and indication for salvage surgery varied and the median time from radiotherapy to surgery was 4.1–33 months. Complete resection (R0) was achieved in 85–100%, with vital tumour in 61–100%. A large number of pneumonectomies were performed, and additional structures were often resected. Where reported, 90-day mortality was 0–11.4%. Reported survival metrics varied but included median overall survival 9–46 months and 5-year survival 20–75%. Conclusion: There are limited, low-level, heterogeneous data in support of salvage surgery after radical CRT. Based on this, perioperative mortality appears acceptable and long-term survival is possible in (highly) selected patients. In suitable patients (fit, no distant metastases, tumour appears completely resectable and preferably with confirmed viable tumour), this treatment option should be discussed in an experienced multidisciplinary lung cancer team.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTherapeutic advances in medical oncology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • chemoradiotherapy
  • non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)
  • recurrence
  • salvage
  • surgery

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