Objective: We sought to define the prevalence, malignancy rate, and outcome of secondary nodules (SNs) detected on computed tomography (CT) scan for patients undergoing resection for primary non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Methods: In consecutive patients with NSCLC, we reviewed all CT scan reports obtained at diagnosis of the dominant tumor for description of SNs. When resected, pathology was reviewed. Serial CT reports for 2 years postoperatively were evaluated to follow SNs not resected. Results: Among 155 patients, 88 (57%) were found to have SNs. A total of 137 SNs were evaluated (median size, 0.5 cm). Thirty-two nodules were resected at primary resection. Nineteen (61%) resected nodules were benign, whereas 13 (39%) were malignant (8 synchronous primary tumors and 5 lobar metastases). A total of 105 unresected nodules were followed by CT. Of these, 32 (30%) resolved completely, 20 (19%) shrunk, and 28 (27%) were stable, whereas 11 (11%) were lost to follow-up. Fourteen SNs (13%) grew, of which 5 were found to be malignant, each a new primary. Overall 5-year survival was not different between patients with or without SNs (67% vs 64%; P = .88). Discussion: The prevalence of SNs on CT scan in patients undergoing resection for primary NSCLC is high. Only a low proportion of SNs are ever found to be malignant, predominantly those on the ipsilateral side as the dominant tumor. The presence of SNs has no effect on survival. Patients with SNs, if otherwise appropriately staged, should not be denied surgical therapy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine