Objective The study objective was to evaluate the influence of surgeon experience on outcomes in early-stage non-small cell lung cancer. Methods In an institutional database, patients undergoing operations for pathologic stage I non-small cell lung cancer were categorized by surgeon experience: within 5 years of completion of training, the low experience group; with 5 to 15 years of experience, the moderate experience group; and with more than 15 years, the high experience group. Results From 2000 to 2012, 800 operations (638 lobectomies, 162 sublobar resection) were performed with the following distribution: low experience 178 (22.2%), moderate experience 224 (28.0%), and high experience 398 (49.8%). Patients in the groups were similar in age and comorbidities. The use of video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery was higher in the moderate experience group (low experience: 62/178 [34.8%], moderate experience: 151/224 [67.4%], and high experience: 133/398 [33.4%], P <.001), as was the mean number of mediastinal (N2) lymph node stations sampled (low experience: 2.8 ± 1.6, moderate experience: 3.5 ± 1.7, high experience: 2.3 ± 1.4, P <.001). The risk of perioperative morbidity was similar across all groups (low experience: 54/178 [30.3%], moderate experience: 51/224 [22.8%], and high experience: 115/398 [28.9%], P =.163). Five-year overall survival in the moderate experience group was 76.9% compared with 67.5% in the low experience group (P <.001) and 71.4% in the high experience group (P =.006). In a Cox proportional hazard model, increasing age, male gender, prior cancer, and R1 resection were associated with an elevated risk of mortality, whereas being operated on by surgeons with moderate experience and having a greater number of mediastinal (N2) lymph node stations sampled were protective. Conclusions The experience of the surgeon does not affect perioperative outcomes after resection for pathologic stage I non-small cell lung cancer. At least moderate experience after fellowship is associated with improved long-term survival.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine