Objective: Our aim was to validate the prognostic relevance in NSCLC of potential residual tumor (R) descriptors, including the proposed International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer definition for uncertain resection, referred to as R(un). Methods: A total of 14,712 patients undergoing resection with full R status and survival were analyzed. The following were also evaluated: whether fewer than three N2 stations were explored, lobe-specific nodal dissection, extracapsular extension, highest lymph node station status, carcinoma in situ at the bronchial resection margin, and pleural lavage cytologic examination result. Revised categories of R0, R(un), R1, and R2 were tested for survival impact. Results: In all, 14,293 cases were R0, 263 were R1, and 156 were R2 (median survivals not reached, 33 months, and 29 months, respectively). R status correlated with T and N categories. A total of 9290 cases (63%) had three or more N2 stations explored and 6641 cases (45%) had lobe-specific nodal dissection, correlated with increasing pN2. Extracapsular extension was present in 62 of 364 cases with available data (17%). The highest station was positive in 942 cases (6.4%). The pleural lavage cytologic examination result was positive in 59 of 1705 cases (3.5%): 13 had carcinoma in situ at the bronchial resection margin. After reassignment because of inadequate nodal staging in 56% of cases, 6070 cases were R0, 8185 were R(un), 301 were R1, and 156 were R2. In node-positive cases, the median survival times were 70, 50, and 30 months for R0, R(un) (p < 0.0001), and R1 (p < 0.001), respectively, with no significant difference between R0 and R(un) in pN0 cases. Conclusions: R descriptors have prognostic relevance, with R(un) survival stratifying between R0 and R1. Therefore, a detailed evaluation of R factor is of particular importance in the design and analyses of clinical trials of adjuvant therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)344-359
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Thoracic Oncology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Lung cancer staging
  • R classification
  • Resection margin
  • Systematic lymph node dissection


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