Background: The standard treatment for patients with locoregional recurrence of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) after complete resection has not been established. The aim of this study was to evaluate clinicopathologic characteristics, type of locoregional recurrence, pattern of subsequent failure, and survival after the recurrence. Methods: Of 743 patients undergoing pulmonary resection for NSCLC in the National Cancer Center Hospital between 1990 and 1995, we retrospectively reviewed the medical charts of the 43 patients (5.8%) found to have locoregional recurrence without distant metastasis or pleural or pericardial involvement. Results: The median time to locoregional recurrence was 13.6 months (range: 1.6-85.8 months). The most frequent site of recurrence was the mediastinal nodes in 21 of 43 patients (49%). 33 patients (77%) received further treatment for the recurrence: thoracic irradiation in 26, surgery in two, systemic chemotherapy in two, and a combination of the above in 3 patients. Subsequent distant failure was detected in 26 (68%) of the 38 patients assessable for the analysis of failure pattern: lung in 11, brain in 6, bone in 5, and others in 13. The median interval from the recurrence to distant failure was 8.4 months (range: 1.7-56.4 months). The median survival time after diagnosis of the locoregional recurrence was 10.5 months (range: 0-74.0 months). A multivariate analysis showed that local therapy for the locoregional recurrence had no significant impact on postrecurrent survival or distant failure-free survival. Conclusions: Many patients with postoperative locoregional recurrence developed distant metastases early after the first recurrence. Systemic chemotherapy in addition to local therapy may be of benefit in this population.
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