Journal of robotic surgery, 16 3 2023 Robot-assisted thoracic surgery for stages IIB-IVA non-small cell lung cancer: retrospective study of feasibility and outcome. Shahin GMM, Vos PWK, Hutteman M, Stigt JA, Braun J
Robot-assisted thoracic surgery (RATS) for higher stages non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) remains controversial. This study reports the feasibility of RATS in patients with stages IIB-IVA NSCLC. A single-institute, retrospective study was conducted with patients undergoing RATS for stages IIB-IVA NSCLC, from January 2015 until January 2020. Unforeseen N2 disease was excluded. Data were collected from the Dutch Lung Cancer Audit database. Conversion rate, radical (R0) resection rate, local recurrence rate and complications were analyzed, as were risk factors for conversion. RATS was performed in 95 patients with NSCLC clinical or pathological stages IIB (N = 51), IIIA (N = 39), IIIB (N = 2) and IVA (N = 3). 10.5% had received neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy. Pathological staging was T3 in 33.7% and T4 in 34.7%. RATS was completed in 77.9% with a radical resection rate of 94.8%. Lobectomy was performed in 67.4% of the total resections. Conversion was for strategic (18.9%) and emergency (3.2%) reasons. Pneumonectomy (p = 0.001), squamous cell carcinoma (p < 0.001), additional resection of adjacent structures (p = 0.025) and neoadjuvant chemoradiation (p = 0.017) were independent risk factors for conversion. Major post-operative complications occurred in ten patients (10.5%) including an in-hospital mortality of 2.1% (n = 2). Median recurrence-free survival was estimated at 39.4 months (CI 16.4-62.5). Two- and 5-year recurrence-free survival rates were 53.8% and 36.7%, respectively. This study concludes that RATS is safe and feasible in higher staged NSCLC tumors after exclusion of unforeseen N2 disease. It brings new perspective on the potential of RATS in higher stages, dealing with larger and more invasive tumors.