What is included in the postoperative evaluation of non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), and what are the potential complications following surgery?

Updated: Jul 15, 2021
  • Author: Winston W Tan, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: Nagla Abdel Karim, MD, PhD  more...
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Residual pulmonary function after surgical resection is estimated using pulmonary function tests and radionuclide lung scans.

A study by Allen et al assessed curative-intent resections in a major US metropolitan area. The study found that most resections did not achieve good quality surgical resection (GQR) standards. [94] Although surgical sampling of mediastinal (level 2) lymph nodes was most lacking, evaluation of level 1 lymph nodes was also suboptimal. Further studies are indicated to assess surgical practices in order to achieve minimum standards for accurate staging, prognostication, and eligibility for clinical trials.

An understanding of post-surgical quality of life can help surgeons provide lung cancer patients with important information regarding postoperative outcomes. A study that measured health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in patients who underwent lung cancer surgery found that survivors exhibited clinically meaningful worse dyspnea, coughing, chest pain, and financial problems than the general population. [95]

The perioperative mortality rate is 6% for pneumonectomy, 3% for lobectomy, and 1% for segmentectomy. These rates reflect improvements in anesthesia and surgical techniques.

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