Oncologic Equivalence of Minimally Invasive Lobectomy: The Scientific and Practical Arguments

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Annals of Thoracic Surgery


Background: Despite the slow adoption of minimally invasive lobectomy (MIL), it is now a preferred approach for early lung cancer. Nevertheless, ongoing concerns about MIL oncologic effectiveness has led to calls for prospective, randomized trials. Methods: Retrospective analysis of on-line databases, collected readings, and other scholarly experiences of the experienced authors were used to construct this review. All available reports that contained long-term survival comparisons for open versus MIL were tabulated. Results: The preponderance of limited randomized and numerous large propensity-matched database analyses indicate equivalent or improved long-term MIL survival for early-stage disease. MIL lymph node dissection quality has been challenged; however, this was attributed to MIL avoidance of central tumors in early reports. Although technical inadequacies for MIL should be amplified for advanced cancer resections, early reports show no such concern. In fact, for special populations such as older, frail patients, evidence is much stronger that MIL confers a survival advantage. Conclusions: MIL is an oncologically equivalent operation with substantially less morbidity, especially in frail populations. It is reasonable to suggest that MIL should be the technique of choice, even a quality indicator, for lobectomy.

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