Detection of true pathologic stage I lung cancer in a screening program and the effect on survival

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One‐hundred‐sixty‐nine lung cancers have occurred to date among 10,040 cigarette smoking men who participated in the New York Lung Cancer Detection Program. Almost 40% of the cases, 65, were still Stage I when their disease was diagnosed; 62 had thoracotomy and resection, and in 57, mediastinal node dissection confirmed that the mediastinum was free of metastases (“true pathologic” Stage I). Fifty‐four of the 62 (87%) are still alive at this time, while only 15 of 104 (14%) of those with Stage II and III lung cancers are alive. Only two patients of the 62 in Stage I who were treated by resection died of lung cancer, both with T2 tumors. Two others are alive with metastases, one died postoperatively, and five died of other causes without evidence of lung cancer. The estimated probability of survival for true Stage I lung cancer is over 90% at five years, and close to 40% of all lung cancers can be detected in this favorable stage by present radiologic and cytologic screening techniques. Cancer 47:1182–1187, 1981. Copyright © 1981 American Cancer Society