Impact of waiting times on tumour growth and pathologic upstaging in patients with non-small cell lung cancer having lung resection

Lung Cancer

Tumori. 2020 Oct 6:300891620960217. doi: 10.1177/0300891620960217. Online ahead of print.


OBJECTIVE: There are limited data on tumour growth or pathologic upstaging in patients with early-stage lung cancer awaiting lung resection. We aimed to evaluate whether waiting times on the current lung cancer treatment pathway were associated with significant tumour growth or pathologic upstaging.

METHODS: This is a retrospective observational study of a consecutive series of patients with early-stage, non-small cell lung cancer who underwent resection for lung cancer. The difference between tumour size at diagnostic and preoperative computed tomography (CT) scans was calculated. Significant tumour growth was defined as a diameter increase of ⩾5 mm or ⩾20%. The time intervals between baseline and repeat CT (CT-int) and between baseline CT and date of surgery (Surg-int), as well as other potential clinical and pathologic prognostic factors, were compared between upstaged and nonupstaged patients.

RESULTS: There were 121 patients identified. Fifty-four patients (44.6%) had tumour growth ⩾5 mm and 27 patients (22%) had tumour growth ⩾20%. Median CT-int and Surg-int were 2.4 and 2.6 months, respectively. Forty-four patients (36%) were upstaged at surgery due to new lymph node involvement (n = 19), pleural invasion (n = 12), satellite nodules (n = 4), or increase in tumour diameter (n = 9). There was a marginal, but statistically insignificant, difference in median CT intervals in patients who had tumour growth <20% vs ⩾20% at 2.4 vs 2.6 months (p = 0.06).

CONCLUSION: Current cancer pathway waiting times are not associated with significant tumour growth or pathologic upstaging in this cohort.