Study objective: To determine the prognostic significance of supraclavicular lymph node (SCLN) involvement in small cell lung cancer.
Materials and methods: Patients (1,370) with small cell lung cancer were included in four consecutive clinical trials and classified as having either limited or extensive forms of disease using the Veterans Administration staging system.
Results: SCLN was present in 17% of patients (n = 234). Median survival was 258 days for patients with SCLN (n = 234) and 297 days for patients without SCLN (n = 1136) (p = 0.002). SCLN involvement was correlated with the presence of distant metastases at baseline (169 vs 65, p = < 0.001). Median survival was 375 days for patients with limited forms without SCLN (n = 529), 332 days for those with limited forms with SCLN (n = 65) (p = 0.12), 244 days for those with extensive forms without SCLN (n = 604), and 228 days for those with extensive forms with SCLN (n = 169) (p = 0.94). The 2-year survival rates were 17%, 12%, 2%, and 4%, respectively. Cox models confirmed that SCLN did not provide any significant additional prognostic information.
Conclusion: SCLN is highly correlated with extensive forms explaining its overall prognostic value. In limited disease, SCLN is only a minor poor prognostic factor, not justifying any amendment to the staging system currently used.