Background Malignant pleural effusion and/or pleural nodules are a final stage of disease extension of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), which is currently classified as M1a-Stage IV disease. The role of surgery, especially extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) for local disease control and its impact on the survival of patients remains uncertain. Patients and methods This single institute phase II trial was performed from March 1997 to March July 2004 to assess the effects of induction concurrent chemoradiotherapy (CRT) using a pro-drug of 5-FU, uracil-tegafur (UFT®, Taiho Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd, Tokyo, Japan), plus cisplatin concurrently with 40 Gy hemithorax radiation followed by EPP. Intraoperative hypotonic cisplatin treatment in the pleural cavity before resection of the pericardium and diaphragm was performed. The primary endpoint of this study was the overall survival (OS), and the secondary endpoint was the disease-free survival (DFS), safety, response to the induction CRT, local disease control period in the affected thorax and the type of disease recurrence. Results This trial was prematurely terminated because of the slow registration pace. During the study period, 11 patients were enrolled. There were five males and six females, with a median age of 55 (36-64) years. All patients had adenocarcinoma. All patients received the planned induction CRT. Five patients achieved a partial response and five achieved stable disease, and one patient could not be evaluated. One patient underwent exploratory thoracotomy due to unresectable chest wall invasion, and nine patients (81.8%) underwent EPP. No perioperative deaths were encountered. The median follow-up time was matured at 32.1 (range 15.0-100) months. The one-, three- and five-year DFS rates were 77.8% (95%CI: 50.6-100%), 11.1% and 11.1% (95%CI: 95%CI: 0-31.7%), respectively. The one-, three- and five-year OS rates were 100.0%, 33.3% (95%CI: 2.5-64.1%) and 22.2% (95%CI: 0.0-49.4%), respectively. Recurrence developed in eight of nine patients who underwent EPP (88.9%). All first recurrent sites were distant regions, and no ipsilateral local recurrence was identified. Conclusion The trimodality treatment used in this trial appears to be a choice of treatment for highly selected patients. However, the impact on the survival of NSCLC patients with malignant pleural effusion and/or pleural nodules still remains uncertain given the small number of patients enrolled in the study.
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