Stage distribution in patients with a small (< or = 3 cm) primary nonsmall cell lung carcinoma. Implication for lung carcinoma screening.
BACKGROUND: Recently, there has been increased interest in the use of computed tomography (CT) for lung carcinoma screening. For this technique to be effective, small tumors must be detected at an earlier stage than large lesions. However, to the authors's knowledge, the relationship between the size of small primary (< or = 3 cm) neoplasms and disease stage at presentation has never been established clearly. The current study was performed to determine whether smaller lesions indeed have an earlier stage distribution compared with larger tumors. METHODS: The Duke University Medical Center Tumor Registry identified 620 patients (261 women and 359 men, with a mean age of 67 years) who presented with pathologically proven primary nonsmall cell lung carcinomas measuring < or = 3 cm between 1980-1999. Surgical, pathologic, and imaging information was reviewed retrospectively to confirm the size of the lesion and the disease stage at the time of presentation. The distribution of tumor size within each stage and the distribution of disease stage according to tumor size were determined. RESULTS: Tumors occurring in patients with TNM Stage IIIB disease were slightly larger than those found in patients with either more advanced or less advanced disease. However, there was no apparent statistically significant relation between the stage distribution and the size of the primary lesion. CONCLUSIONS: The current study data did not find a statistically significant relation between the size of small primary lung tumors and the distribution of disease stage at the time of presentation. This finding suggests that the detection of small tumors using screening CT may not result in a shift to an earlier disease stage distribution. A reduction in mortality needs to be demonstrated by appropriate clinical trials prior to the initiation of mass CT screening programs.
Heyneman, LE; Herndon, JE; Goodman, PC; Patz, EF
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