With Comparable Outcomes, Should Early-Stage Lung Cancer Be a Contraindication to Lung Transplant?

The Annals of thoracic surgery(2023)

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BACKGROUND:Active primary lung malignancy remains a strong contraindication to lung transplantation (LTx). However, outcomes are unclear for patients with early-stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who undergo LTx. We hypothesize that patients with early-stage NSCLC incidentally discovered in the explanted lungs have survival comparable to LTx recipients without incidental cancer identified. METHODS:We performed a single-center retrospective analysis of all LTx recipients from May 2007 to September 2021 with incidental cancer identified in the explanted lungs by pathologist report. Survival statistics were estimated using Kaplan-Meier analysis. RESULTS:Of the 1586 LTx performed, 23 patients (1.5%) were found to have incidental lung cancer in the explanted lungs. The most common indications for LTx were interstitial lung disease (n = 13) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (n = 7), and the most common histologic diagnosis was adenocarcinoma (n = 14). In the cohort with stage I disease (n = 9), the 1- and 5-year unadjusted Kaplan-Meier survival rates were 88.9% and 51.9%, respectively. The 1- and 5-year survival rates for transplant recipients without incidental cancer findings at LTx during this period were 86.7% and 59.4%, respectively, and did not differ significantly between the 2 strata (P = .96). CONCLUSIONS:Survival rates at 1 and 5 years were comparable between LTx recipients with incidentally noted pathologic stage I NSCLC and contemporary recipients without cancer. All cancer-related deaths occurred in recipients with incidentally noted advanced NSCLC. These results suggest that patients with pathologic stage I lung cancer at the time of transplant have outcomes comparable to those without cancer findings at the time of transplant.
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