Association between imaging surveillance frequency and outcomes following surgical treatment of early-stage lung cancer

Brendan T. Heiden, Daniel B. Eaton, Su Hsin Chang, Yan Yan, Martin W. Schoen, Theodore Thomas, Mayank R. Patel, Daniel Kreisel, Ruben Nava, Bryan Meyers, Benjamin D. Kozower, Varun Puri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Recent studies have suggested that more frequent postoperative surveillance imaging via computed tomography following lung cancer resection may not improve outcomes. We sought to validate these findings using a uniquely compiled dataset from the Veterans Health Administration, the largest integrated health-care system in the United States. METHODS: We performed a retrospective cohort study of veterans with pathologic stage I non-small cell lung cancer receiving surgery (2006-2016). We assessed the relationship between surveillance frequency (chest computed tomography scans within 2 years after surgery) and recurrence-free survival and overall survival. RESULTS: Among 6171 patients, 3047 (49.4%) and 3124 (50.6%) underwent low-frequency (<2 scans per year; every 6-12 months) and high-frequency (≥2 scans per year; every 3-6 months) surveillance, respectively. Factors associated with high-frequency surveillance included being a former smoker (vs current; adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 1.18, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.05 to 1.33), receiving a wedge resection (vs lobectomy; aOR = 1.21, 95% CI = 1.05 to 1.39), and having follow-up with an oncologist (aOR = 1.58, 95% CI = 1.42 to 1.77), whereas African American race was associated with low-frequency surveillance (vs White race; aOR = 0.64, 95% CI = 0.54 to 0.75). With a median (interquartile range) follow-up of 7.3 (3.4-12.5) years, recurrence was detected in 1360 (22.0%) patients. High-frequency surveillance was not associated with longer recurrence-free survival (adjusted hazard ratio = 0.93, 95% CI = 0.83 to 1.04, P = .22) or overall survival (adjusted hazard ratio = 1.04, 95% CI = 0.96 to 1.12, P = .35). CONCLUSIONS: We found that high-frequency surveillance does not improve outcomes in surgically treated stage I non-small cell lung cancer. Future lung cancer treatment guidelines should consider less frequent surveillance imaging in patients with stage I disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-310
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the National Cancer Institute
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 9 2023


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