Subcarinal lymph node in upper lobe non-small cell lung cancer patients: Is selective lymph node dissection valid?

Keiju Aokage, Junji Yoshida, Genichiro Ishii, Tomoyuki Hishida, Mitsuyo Nishimura, Kanji Nagai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)


Little is known about selective lymph node dissection in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients. We sought to gain insight into subcarinal node involvement for its frequency and impact on outcome to evaluate whether it is valid to omit subcarinal lymph node dissection in upper lobe NSCLC patients. We reviewed node metastases distribution according to node region, tumor location, and histology among 1099 patients with upper lobe NSCLC. We paid special attention to subcarinal metastases patients without superior mediastinal node metastases, because their pathological stages would have been underdiagnosed if subcarinal node dissection had been omitted. We also assessed the outcome and the pattern of failure among subcarinal metastases patients. To identify subcarinal node involvement predictors, we analyzed 7 clinical factors. Subcarinal node metastases were found in 20 patients and were least frequent among squamous cell carcinoma patients (0.5%). Two of them were free from superior mediastinal metastases but died of the disease at 1 month and due to an unknown cause at 18 months, respectively. Seventeen of the 20 patients developed multi-site recurrence within 37 months. The 5-year survival rate of the 20 patients with subcarinal metastases was 9.0%, which was significantly lower than 32.0% of patients with only superior mediastinal metastases. Clinical diagnosis of node metastases was significantly predictive of subcarinal metastases. Subcarinal node metastases from upper lobe NSCLC were rare and predicted an extremely poor outcome. It appears valid to omit subcarinal node dissection in upper lobe NSCLC patients, especially in clinical N0 squamous cell carcinoma patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-167
Number of pages5
JournalLung Cancer
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Nov
Externally publishedYes


  • Lymphadenectomy
  • Minimally invasive surgery
  • Non-small cell lung cancer
  • Selective lymph node dissection
  • Subcarina
  • Surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cancer Research


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