Study objectives: Quality of life (QOL) following video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) major lung resection has not been systematically studied. This study was designed to evaluate the intermediate to long-term QOL in patients with lung cancer following resection, comparing VATS with thoracotomy.
Design: Cross-sectional study, telephone survey.
Methods: Of 136 disease-free surviving patients with non-small cell lung cancer operated on between 1994 and 2000, 45 patients were excluded because of large tumors (> 5 cm) or locally advanced disease, and another 27 patients were excluded because of adjuvant therapy, coexisting cancer from another source, or psychiatric illness. At the time of the survey, 13 patients were found to be either unsuitable or unwilling to participate. This left a total of 51 patients, with 27 patients in the VATS group and 24 patients in the thoracotomy group (open group), for the final analysis. QOL was assessed using Chinese versions of the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) Quality of Life Questionnaire (QLQ)-C30 and the EORTC QLQ-LC13, supplemented with nine self-developed surgery-related questions.
Results: Mean follow-up time was 33.5 months in the VATS group (median, 20.8 months; range, 6.0 to 84.2 months) and 39.4 months in the open group (median, 37.7 months; range, 7.0 to 75.1 months). Both groups had good QOL and high levels of functioning despite a fairly high incidence of symptoms. There was a trend for VATS patients to score higher on the QOL and functioning scales and to report fewer symptoms. However, these differences did not lead to statistical significance.
Conclusions: This study showed that lung cancer patients with resectable disease following surgical treatment without recurrence have good QOL and high levels of functioning on intermediate to long-term follow-up, with no significant differences between the VATS and open groups.