Postoperative radiotherapy is associated with improved overall survival in patients with incompletely resected stage II or III N0-2 non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), a new study published online ahead of print in the Journal of Clinical Oncology has shown.

For the study, researchers identified 3,395 patients with pathologic stage II or III NSCLC who had undergone a lobectomy or pneumonectomy with positive surgical margins from the National Cancer Data Base. Of those, 1,207 (35.6%) received external-beam postoperative radiotherapy at 50 to 74 Gy.

Results showed postoperative radiotherapy was associated with improved overall survival (HR = 0.80; 95% CI: 0.70, 0.92). Subset analysis demonstrated that postoperative radiotherapy improved survival across all nodal stages (N0-2).

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Researchers found that age less than 60 years, earlier year of diagnosis, treatment in a nonacademic facility, lower nodal stage, decreased travel distance, and receipt of chemotherapy increased the likelihood that patients underwent postoperative radiotherapy.

The findings suggest that postoperative radiotherapy should be used in patients with incompletely resected NSCLC.


  1. Wang EH, Corso CD, Rutter CD, et al. Postoperative radiation therapy is associated with improved overall survival in incompletely resected stage II and III non-small-cell lung cancer. J Clin Oncol. 2015. [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2015.61.1517.