Study objectives: Local recurrence is high when sublobar resection is chosen as primary management of stage I non-small cell lung carcinoma. Postoperative external-beam radiotherapy may reduce this local recurrence problem. A technique of intraoperative brachyradiotherapy following thoracoscopic wedge resection is described as an alternative to adjuvant external-beam radiotherapy for high-risk patients who are not candidates for pulmonary lobectomy.
Patients: Fourteen patients with significant impairment in cardiopulmonary function having small peripheral solitary pulmonary nodules underwent video-assisted thoracoscopic (VATS) wedge resection and were found to have non-small cell cancer. Surgical margins were pathologically clear and mediastinal nodes were benign—stage I (T1NO).
Interventions: A custom polyglyconate mesh (Vicryl) containing 125I seeds was applied to pulmonary resection margins following wedge resection of peripheral lung cancers. A total dose of 100 to 120 Gy at 1 cm was applied to the target area.
Results: All patients had histologically clear surgical margins. Postoperative dosimetry confirmed adequate resection margin coverage. There was neither operative mortality nor morbidity related to the VATS wedge resection or the brachytherapy implants. Implants did not migrate, and there were no cases of significant radiation pneumonitis or local recurrence at mean follow-up of 7 months (range, 2 to 12 months).
Conclusions: Intraoperative brachytherapy appears to be a safe and efficient alternative to external-beam radiation therapy when adjuvant radiotherapy is considered following therapeutic wedge resection of stage I (T1NO) lung cancers. The impact on local recurrence, disease-free interval, and survival will require additional follow-up.