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Stereotactic ablative radiotherapy versus lobectomy for operable stage I non-small-cell lung cancer: a pooled analysis of two randomised trials

The standard of care for operable, stage I, non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is lobectomy with mediastinal lymph node dissection or sampling. Stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR) for inoperable stage I NSCLC has shown promising results, but two independent, randomised, phase 3 trials of SABR in patients with operable stage I NSCLC (STARS and ROSEL) closed early due to slow accrual. We aimed to assess overall survival for SABR versus surgery by pooling data from these trials.


Eligible patients in the STARS and ROSEL studies were those with clinical T1–2a (<4 cm), N0M0, operable NSCLC. Patients were randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to SABR or lobectomy with mediastinal lymph node dissection or sampling. We did a pooled analysis in the intention-to-treat population using overall survival as the primary endpoint. Both trials are registered with (STARS: NCT00840749; ROSEL: NCT00687986).


58 patients were enrolled and randomly assigned (31 to SABR and 27 to surgery). Median follow-up was 40·2 months (IQR 23·0–47·3) for the SABR group and 35·4 months (18·9–40·7) for the surgery group. Six patients in the surgery group died compared with one patient in the SABR group. Estimated overall survival at 3 years was 95% (95% CI 85–100) in the SABR group compared with 79% (64–97) in the surgery group (hazard ratio [HR] 0·14 [95% CI 0·017–1·190], log-rank p=0·037). Recurrence-free survival at 3 years was 86% (95% CI 74–100) in the SABR group and 80% (65–97) in the surgery group (HR 0·69 [95% CI 0·21–2·29], log-rank p=0·54). In the surgery group, one patient had regional nodal recurrence and two had distant metastases; in the SABR group, one patient had local recurrence, four had regional nodal recurrence, and one had distant metastases. Three (10%) patients in the SABR group had grade 3 treatment-related adverse events (three [10%] chest wall pain, two [6%] dyspnoea or cough, and one [3%] fatigue and rib fracture). No patients given SABR had grade 4 events or treatment-related death. In the surgery group, one (4%) patient died of surgical complications and 12 (44%) patients had grade 3–4 treatment-related adverse events. Grade 3 events occurring in more than one patient in the surgery group were dyspnoea (four [15%] patients), chest pain (four [15%] patients), and lung infections (two [7%]).

26 May 2015

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