The Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery. 2008 Sep;136(3):605-10. Epub 2008 Jun 27. [Link]

Flores RM, Routledge T, Seshan VE, Dycoco J, Zakowski M, Hirth Y, Rusch VW.

Thoracic Service, Department of Surgery, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York 10021, USA.


Objectives: The propensity of malignant pleural mesothelioma to metastasize to N1 or N2 nodes and their corresponding prognostic value is unclear. The American Joint Committee on Cancer staging system groups N1 and N2 disease together as stage III. The goal of this study was to define the prognostic value of specific nodal stations.

Methods: Patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma who underwent resection were identified from an institutional database. Nodal stations were defined by the American Joint Committee on Cancer lung cancer node map classification. Survival was analyzed by the Kaplan–Meier method, log-rank test, and Cox proportional hazards analysis.

Results: From 1990 to 2006, 348 patients were identified: 279 men and 69 women with a median age of 67 years (range 26–85 years). Extrapleural pneumonectomy was performed in 223 cases, and pleurectomy/decortication was performed in 125 cases. Survival differences (P < .01) were observed between 2 groups: N0 or N1(+) (median survival = 19 months) and N2(+), N2/N1(+) and internal thoracic(+) (median survival = 10 months). Survival was influenced by the number of involved N2 stations (0, 1, 2, or more: P < .001). Multivariate analysis grouping all N2 and internal thoracic(+) versus N1(+) and N0 demonstrated a hazard ratio for survival of 1.7 (P < .0001) controlling for T3/T4 status (hazard ratio = 1.3, P < .01), non-epithelioid histology (hazard ratio = 1.7, P < .0001), extrapleural pneumonectomy (1.1, P = .4), and male gender (hazard ratio 1.4, P < .01).

Conclusion: This study confirms a preferential pattern of drainage of malignant pleural mesothelioma to N2 rather than N1 lymph nodes, but suggests that N1 only nodal involvement should be classified as lower stage disease. Multiple N2 nodal site involvement could potentially be classified as higher stage disease than single station N2. Our results emphasize the need for larger, confirmatory multicenter studies that could lead to revision of the current staging system.