Pneumonectomy for lung cancer in the elderly: lessons learned from a multicenter study.

Minervini, Fabrizio; Kocher, Gregor J.; Bertoglio, Pietro; Kestenholz, Peter B; Gálvez Muñoz, Carlos; Patrini, Davide; Ceulemans, Laurens J; Begum, Housne; Lutz, Jon; Shojai, Max; Shargall, Yaron; Scarci, Marco (2021). Pneumonectomy for lung cancer in the elderly: lessons learned from a multicenter study. Journal of thoracic disease, 13(10), pp. 5835-5842. AME Publishing Company 10.21037/jtd-21-869

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60% of patients diagnosed with lung cancer are older than 65 years and are at risk for substandard treatment due to a reluctance to recommend surgery. Pneumonectomy remains a high risk procedure especially in elderly patients. Nevertheless, the impact of age and neoadjuvant treatment on outcomes after pneumonectomy is still not well described.


We performed a multicentric retrospective study, analyzing outcomes of patients older than 70 years who underwent pneumonectomy for central primary lung malignancy between January 2009 and June 2019 in 7 thoracic surgery departments: Lucerne and Bern (Switzerland), Hamilton (Canada), Alicante (Spain), Monza (Italy), London (UK), Leuven (Belgium). Survival was estimated with Kaplan-Meier, and differences in survival were determined by log-rank analysis. We investigated pre- and post-operative prognostic factors using Cox proportional hazards regression model; multivariable analysis was performed only with variables, which were statistically significant at the invariable analysis.


A total of 136 patients were included in the study. Mean age was 73.8 years (SD 3.6). 24 patients (17.6%) had an induction treatment (chemotherapy alone in 15 patients and chemo-radiation in 9). Mean length of stay (LOS) was 12.6 days (SD 10.39) and 74 patients (54.4%) had experienced a post-operative complication: 29 (21.3%) had a pulmonary complication, 33 (24.3%) had a cardiac complication and in 12 cases (8.8%) patients experienced both cardiac and pulmonary complications. 16 patients were readmitted [median LOS 13.7 days (range, 2-39 days)] and of those 14 (10.3%) required redo surgery. Median overall survival (OS) of the entire cohort was 38 months (95% CI: 29.9-46.1 months); in-hospital mortality was 1.5%, 30-day mortality rate was 3.7%, while 90-day mortality was 8.8% accounting for 5 and 12 patients respectively. Patients receiving neo-adjuvant therapy did not experience a higher incidence of postoperative complications (P=0.633), did not have a longer postoperative course (P=0.588), nor did they have an increased mortality rate (P=0.863).


Age should not be considered an absolute contraindication for pneumonectomy in elderly patients even after neoadjuvant treatment. It has become apparent that especially in these patients, a patient-tailored approach with a careful selection should be used to define the risk-benefit balance.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Gastro-intestinal, Liver and Lung Disorders (DMLL) > Clinic of Thoracic Surgery

UniBE Contributor:

Kocher, Gregor, Lutz, Jon Andri, Shojai, Max Philip


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




AME Publishing Company




Thomas Michael Marti

Date Deposited:

19 Jan 2022 12:21

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:58

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Pneumonectomy lung cancer in the elderly lung surgery in the elderly




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