Background: Minimal knowledge exists regarding the outcome, prognosis and optimal treatment strategy for patients with pulmonary large cell neuroendocrine carcinomas (LCNEC) due to their rarity. We aimed to identify factors affecting survival and recurrence after resection to inform current treatment strategies. Methods: We retrospectively reviewed 72 patients who had undergone a curative resection for LCNEC in 8 centers between 2000 and 2015. Univariable and multivariable analyses were performed to identify the factors influencing recurrence, disease-specific survival and overall survival. These included age, gender, previous malignancy, ECOG performance status, symptoms at diagnosis, extent of resection, extent of lymphadenectomy, additional chemo- and/or radiotherapy, tumor location, tumor size, pT, pleural invasion, pN and pStage. Results: Median follow-up was 47 (95%CI 41–79) months; 5-year disease-specific and overall survival rates were 57.6% (95%CI 41.3–70.9) and 47.4% (95%CI 32.3–61.1). There were 22 systemic recurrences and 12 loco-regional recurrences. Tumor size was an independent prognostic factor for systemic recurrence [HR: 1.20 (95%CI 1.01–1.41); p = 0.03] with a threshold value of 3 cm (AUC = 0.71). For tumors ≤3 cm and >3 cm, 5-year freedom from systemic recurrence was 79.2% (95%CI 43.6–93.6) and 38.2% (95%CI 20.6–55.6) (p < 0.001) and 5-year disease-specific survival was 60.7% (95%CI 35.1–78.8) and 54.2% (95%CI 32.6–71.6) (p = 0.31), respectively. Conclusions: A large proportion of patients with surgically resected LCNEC will develop systemic recurrence after resection. Patients with tumors >3 cm have a significantly higher rate of systemic recurrence suggesting that adjuvant chemotherapy should be considered after complete resection of LCNEC >3 cm, even in the absence of nodal involvement.
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