OBJECTIVES: Surgical resection is the best option for the treatment of early-stage lung cancer. However, older patients are less likely to receive curative treatment. Therefore, we compared long-term survival rates between surgical resection and stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR) for the treatment of early-stage lung cancer in older patients. METHODS: From 2013 to 2016, 272 patients aged ≥75 years with clinical stage I lung cancer underwent surgical resection (n = 191) or SABR (n = 81). A propensity score-matched analysis was performed. Overall survival, cumulative incidence of cancer-related death and recurrence were compared between the 2 groups. RESULTS: In the matched cohort, 48 well-balanced pairs were extracted. An overall survival benefit was associated with surgery (surgery vs SABR = 65.9% vs 40.3%; P = 0.034); however, there was no significant difference in the cumulative incidence of cancer-related death (P = 0.089) or recurrence (P = 0.111) between the 2 groups. Systemic dissemination was the dominant pattern of progression in both groups. The 3-year cumulative incidence of regional recurrence was significantly higher in the SABR group compared to the surgery group (surgery vs SABR = 0% vs 11.4%, P = 0.046). CONCLUSIONS: Surgical resection with mediastinal lymph node dissection provides better long-term survival compared to SABR in older patients with stage I lung cancer. Surgery should be considered for older patients aged ≥75 years who are appropriate candidates for surgery. SABR remains an alternative treatment with comparable cancer-related death and recurrence for patients unsuitable for surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-80
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Cardio-thoracic Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2021


  • Long-term survival
  • Stage I lung cancer
  • Stereotactic ablative radiotherapy
  • Surgical resection


Dive into the research topics of 'Stereotactic ablative radiotherapy versus surgery in older patients with stage i lung cancer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this