Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Lung Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Stage I NSCLC Treatment

Standard Treatment Options for Stage I NSCLC

Standard treatment options for stage I NSCLC include the following:

Recommended Related to Lung Cancer

Lung Cancer Treatment

As far as treatment goes, if the lung cancer can be successfully removed with surgery, the patient has an excellent chance of surviving at least one year, and usually a better than 50% chance of living for five years or more after that. The challenge is detecting lung cancer early enough to make surgery possible.

Read the Lung Cancer Treatment article > >

  1. Surgery.
  2. Radiation therapy.


Surgery is the treatment of choice for patients with stage I NSCLC. A lobectomy or segmental, wedge, or sleeve resection may be performed as appropriate. Patients with impaired pulmonary function are candidates for segmental or wedge resection of the primary tumor. Careful preoperative assessment of the patient's overall medical condition, especially the patient's pulmonary reserve, is critical in considering the benefits of surgery.


The immediate postoperative mortality rate is age related, but a 3% to 5% mortality rate with lobectomy can be expected.[1]


  1. The Lung Cancer Study Group conducted a randomized study (LCSG-821) that compared lobectomy with limited resection for patients with stage I lung cancer. Results of the study showed the following:[2]
    1. A reduction in local recurrence for patients treated with lobectomy compared with those treated with limited excision.
    2. No significant difference in overall survival (OS).[2]
  2. Similar results have been reported from a nonrandomized comparison of anatomic segmentectomy and lobectomy.[3]
    1. A survival advantage was noted with lobectomy for patients with tumors larger than 3 cm but not for those with tumors smaller than 3 cm.
    2. The rate of locoregional recurrence was significantly less after lobectomy, regardless of primary tumor size.
  3. A study of stage I patients showed the following:[4]
    1. Those treated with wedge or segmental resections had a local recurrence rate of 50% (i.e., 31 recurrences out of 62 patients) despite having undergone complete resections.[4]
  4. The Cochrane Collaboration group reviewed 11 randomized trials with a total of 1,910 patients who underwent surgical interventions for early-stage (I-IIIA) lung cancer.[5] A pooled analysis of three trials reported the following:
    1. Four-year survival was superior in patients with resectable stage I, II, or IIIA NSCLC who underwent resection and complete ipsilateral mediastinal lymph node dissection (CMLND) compared with those who underwent resection and lymph node sampling; the hazard ratio (HR) was estimated to be 0.78 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.65-0.93, P = .005).[5][Level of evidence: 1iiA]
    2. There was a significant reduction in any cancer recurrence (local or distant) in the CMLND group (relative risk [RR] = 0.79; 95% CI, 0.66-0.95; P = .01) that appeared mainly because of a reduction in the number of distant recurrences (RR = 0.78; 95% CI, 0.61-1.00; P = .05).
    3. There was no difference in operative mortality.
    4. Air leak lasting more than 5 days was significantly more common in patients assigned to CMLND (RR = 2.94; 95% CI, 1.01-8.54; P = .05).
  5. Current evidence suggests that lung cancer resection combined with CMLND is associated with a small to modest improvement in survival compared with lung cancer resection combined with systematic sampling of mediastinal nodes in patients with stage I, II, or IIIA NSCLC.[5][Level of evidence: 1iiA]
  6. CMLND versus lymph node sampling was evaluated in a large randomized phase III trial (ACOSOG-Z0030).[6]
    1. Preliminary analyses of operative morbidity and mortality showed comparable rates from the procedures.[6]

WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: May 16, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

Today on WebMD

lung cancer overview slideshow
what is your cancer risk
Using GPS to Detect Lung Cancer
mans hand putting out cigarette
15 Cancer Symptoms Men Ignore
Lung Cancer Risks Myths and Facts
cancer fighting foods
Improving Lung Cancer Survival Targeted Therapy
Lung Cancer Surprising Differences Between Sexes
Pets Improve Your Health
Vitamin D
Lung Cancer Surgery Options

WebMD Special Sections