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Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Stages IA and IB NSCLC Treatment


Evidence (radiation therapy):

  1. A single report of patients older than 70 years who had resectable lesions smaller than 4 cm but who had medically inoperable disease or who refused surgery reported the following:[21]
    • Survival at 5 years after radiation therapy with curative intent was comparable with a historical control group of patients of similar age who were resected with curative intent.
  2. A small case series using matched controls reported the following:[4]
    • The addition of endobronchial brachytherapy improved local disease control compared with external-beam radiation therapy.[4][Level of evidence: 3iiiDiii]

A substantial number of patients are ineligible for standard surgical resection because of comorbid conditions that are associated with unacceptably high perioperative risk. Observation and radiation therapy may be considered for these patients.[22,23,24] Nonrandomized observation studies comparing treatment outcomes associated with resection, radiation therapy, and observation have demonstrated shorter survival times and higher mortality for patients treated with observation only.[22] There are a number of approaches to delivery of radiation therapy, including conventional external-beam radiation therapy, stereotactic total-body radiation therapy, and others, and limited reliable data from comparative trials to determine which yield superior outcomes.[23,24]

Treatment Options Under Clinical Evaluation

Treatment options under clinical evaluation include the following:

  1. Clinical trials of postoperative chemoprevention (as evidenced in the ECOG-5597 trial, for example).
  2. Endobronchial therapies, including photodynamic therapy, for highly selected patients with T1, N0, M0 tumors.

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with stage I non-small cell lung cancer. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.


  1. Ginsberg RJ, Hill LD, Eagan RT, et al.: Modern thirty-day operative mortality for surgical resections in lung cancer. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 86 (5): 654-8, 1983.
  2. Ginsberg RJ, Rubinstein LV: Randomized trial of lobectomy versus limited resection for T1 N0 non-small cell lung cancer. Lung Cancer Study Group. Ann Thorac Surg 60 (3): 615-22; discussion 622-3, 1995.
  3. Warren WH, Faber LP: Segmentectomy versus lobectomy in patients with stage I pulmonary carcinoma. Five-year survival and patterns of intrathoracic recurrence. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 107 (4): 1087-93; discussion 1093-4, 1994.
  4. Mantz CA, Dosoretz DE, Rubenstein JH, et al.: Endobronchial brachytherapy and optimization of local disease control in medically inoperable non-small cell lung carcinoma: a matched-pair analysis. Brachytherapy 3 (4): 183-90, 2004.
  5. Manser R, Wright G, Hart D, et al.: Surgery for early stage non-small cell lung cancer. Cochrane Database Syst Rev (1): CD004699, 2005.
  6. Allen MS, Darling GE, Pechet TT, et al.: Morbidity and mortality of major pulmonary resections in patients with early-stage lung cancer: initial results of the randomized, prospective ACOSOG Z0030 trial. Ann Thorac Surg 81 (3): 1013-9; discussion 1019-20, 2006.
  7. Martini N, Bains MS, Burt ME, et al.: Incidence of local recurrence and second primary tumors in resected stage I lung cancer. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 109 (1): 120-9, 1995.
  8. PORT Meta-analysis Trialists Group: Postoperative radiotherapy for non-small cell lung cancer. Cochrane Database Syst Rev (2): CD002142, 2005.
  9. Deygas N, Froudarakis M, Ozenne G, et al.: Cryotherapy in early superficial bronchogenic carcinoma. Chest 120 (1): 26-31, 2001.
  10. van Boxem TJ, Venmans BJ, Schramel FM, et al.: Radiographically occult lung cancer treated with fibreoptic bronchoscopic electrocautery: a pilot study of a simple and inexpensive technique. Eur Respir J 11 (1): 169-72, 1998.
  11. Pignon JP, Tribodet H, Scagliotti GV, et al.: Lung adjuvant cisplatin evaluation: a pooled analysis by the LACE Collaborative Group. J Clin Oncol 26 (21): 3552-9, 2008.
  12. Winton T, Livingston R, Johnson D, et al.: Vinorelbine plus cisplatin vs. observation in resected non-small-cell lung cancer. N Engl J Med 352 (25): 2589-97, 2005.
  13. Arriagada R, Bergman B, Dunant A, et al.: Cisplatin-based adjuvant chemotherapy in patients with completely resected non-small-cell lung cancer. N Engl J Med 350 (4): 351-60, 2004.
  14. Scagliotti GV, Fossati R, Torri V, et al.: Randomized study of adjuvant chemotherapy for completely resected stage I, II, or IIIA non-small-cell Lung cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst 95 (19): 1453-61, 2003.
  15. Hotta K, Matsuo K, Ueoka H, et al.: Role of adjuvant chemotherapy in patients with resected non-small-cell lung cancer: reappraisal with a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Clin Oncol 22 (19): 3860-7, 2004.
  16. Edell ES, Cortese DA: Photodynamic therapy in the management of early superficial squamous cell carcinoma as an alternative to surgical resection. Chest 102 (5): 1319-22, 1992.
  17. Corti L, Toniolo L, Boso C, et al.: Long-term survival of patients treated with photodynamic therapy for carcinoma in situ and early non-small-cell lung carcinoma. Lasers Surg Med 39 (5): 394-402, 2007.
  18. Strauss GM, Herndon JE 2nd, Maddaus MA, et al.: Adjuvant paclitaxel plus carboplatin compared with observation in stage IB non-small-cell lung cancer: CALGB 9633 with the Cancer and Leukemia Group B, Radiation Therapy Oncology Group, and North Central Cancer Treatment Group Study Groups. J Clin Oncol 26 (31): 5043-51, 2008.
  19. Dosoretz DE, Katin MJ, Blitzer PH, et al.: Radiation therapy in the management of medically inoperable carcinoma of the lung: results and implications for future treatment strategies. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 24 (1): 3-9, 1992.
  20. Gauden S, Ramsay J, Tripcony L: The curative treatment by radiotherapy alone of stage I non-small cell carcinoma of the lung. Chest 108 (5): 1278-82, 1995.
  21. Noordijk EM, vd Poest Clement E, Hermans J, et al.: Radiotherapy as an alternative to surgery in elderly patients with resectable lung cancer. Radiother Oncol 13 (2): 83-9, 1988.
  22. McGarry RC, Song G, des Rosiers P, et al.: Observation-only management of early stage, medically inoperable lung cancer: poor outcome. Chest 121 (4): 1155-8, 2002.
  23. Lanni TB Jr, Grills IS, Kestin LL, et al.: Stereotactic radiotherapy reduces treatment cost while improving overall survival and local control over standard fractionated radiation therapy for medically inoperable non-small-cell lung cancer. Am J Clin Oncol 34 (5): 494-8, 2011.
  24. Grutters JP, Kessels AG, Pijls-Johannesma M, et al.: Comparison of the effectiveness of radiotherapy with photons, protons and carbon-ions for non-small cell lung cancer: a meta-analysis. Radiother Oncol 95 (1): 32-40, 2010.

This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: May 28, 2015
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.
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