Objectives: The majority of patients with locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer (LANSCLC) will recur after receiving multimodal treatment with curative intent. Current guidelines recommend routine follow-up with computerized tomography (CT) scans, though minimal data exist on the utility of this approach nor has an optimal follow-up strategy to detect recurrence been defined. This study examined whether survival varied if relapse was detected with scheduled follow-up CT versus symptoms, and whether the pattern of recurrence affected these outcomes. Materials and methods: Single institution retrospective review of patients who had undergone definitive management of LANSCLC with chemoradiotherapy +/- surgical resection. Standard follow-up testing consisted of routine exam and chest CT beginning at every 3 months in the first year and decreasing to annually after the fifth year. Results: 311 patients were assessed, of which 167 patients recurred and were evaluable. 104 progressions were detected by follow-up and 63 by symptoms. For the entire group, there was no difference in overall survival (OS) for those detected by scans vs. symptoms (7.6 vs. 6.1 months, p = 0.797). After excluding patients with oligometastatic (1–3) brain metastases (OBM), OS was superior in patients with scan detected relapse (7.5 vs. 3.4 months, p = 0.013). Conclusions: Routine surveillance by CT chest detects more localized disease than symptom driven follow-up, though OS does not differ. This null result is largely driven by the favorable outcomes for patients with OBM who present symptomatically. A strategy of both chest and brain imaging could be considered and warrants further investigation.
- Lung cancer
- Stage 3
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Cancer Research