Objective: The aim was to develop and validate the Veterans Administration (VA) Lung Cancer Mortality (VALCAN-M) score, a risk prediction model for 90-day mortality following surgical treatment of clinical stage I nonsmall-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Background: While surgery remains the preferred treatment for functionally fit patients with early-stage NSCLC, less invasive, nonsurgical treatments have emerged for high-risk patients. Accurate risk prediction models for postoperative mortality may aid surgeons and other providers in optimizing patient-centered treatment plans. Methods: We performed a retrospective cohort study using a uniquely compiled VA data set including all Veterans with clinical stage I NSCLC undergoing surgical treatment between 2006 and 2016. Patients were randomly split into derivation and validation cohorts. We derived the VALCAN-M score based on multivariable logistic regression modeling of patient and treatment variables and 90-day mortality. Results: A total of 9749 patients were included (derivation cohort: n=6825, 70.0%; validation cohort: n=2924, 30.0%). The 90-day mortality rate was 4.0% (n=390). The final multivariable model included 11 factors that were associated with 90-day mortality: age, body mass index, history of heart failure, forced expiratory volume (% predicted), history of peripheral vascular disease, functional status, delayed surgery, American Society of Anesthesiology performance status, tumor histology, extent of resection (lobectomy, wedge, segmentectomy, or pneumonectomy), and surgical approach (minimally invasive or open). The c statistic was 0.739 (95% CI=0.708-0.771) in the derivation cohort. Conclusions: The VALCAN-M score uses readily available treatment-related variables to reliably predict 90-day operative mortality. This score can aid surgeons and other providers in objectively discussing operative risk among high-risk patients with clinical stage I NSCLC considering surgery versus other definitive therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E634-E640
JournalAnnals of surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2023


  • mortality
  • nonsmall-cell lung cancer
  • surgery


Dive into the research topics of 'Development and Validation of the VA Lung Cancer Mortality (VALCAN-M) Score for 90-Day Mortality Following Surgical Treatment of Clinical Stage i Lung Cancer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this