Report from the 3rd Mediterranean Symposium in Thoracic Surgical Oncology on VATS RESECTIONS FOR LUNG CANCER: moving toward standard of care.
The third mediterranean symposium on thoracic surgical oncology was successful. The symposium was held the 21st – 22nd april 2016 at the Aula Magna of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Catania. More than 150 people attended, and among them there were thoracic surgeons, general surgeons, oncologists, chest physicians, residents and medical students. This year, we had speakers from Europe and the USA. The main topic was VATS resections for lung cancer (Photo 1). During the opening ceremony, the Rector Giacomo Pignataro awarded a medal to Professor Tom Treasure for enhancing our outstanding education and research experience (Photo 2).
Although the concept of operating thru a small port was born and developed in Europe (1- 7) it has been noted that 90% of papers on uniportal VATS lobectomy come from East Asian countries (8-11). Throughout the symposium different speakers agreed that a proper definition of uniportal VATS is mandatory to speak the same language worldwide.
Awake thoracic surgery was discussed together with the need of accurate preoperative staging procedures such as endobronchial ultrasound, videomediastinoscopy or Video-assisted mediastinal lympadenectomy. It was concluded that a wide spectrum of factors must be considered when determining the appropriate tests to assess the lymph nodes in NSCLC, which includes not only the sensitivity and specificity of the test, but also the ability to perform the procedure on an individual patient.
Data from New York showed very clearly that there have been no large-scale randomized control trials to compare open and VATS lobectomy. Although most may agree with the short-term superiority of VATs lobectomy over its open counterpart, many argue that is an in adequate oncologic procedure. Hence whether the approach is equivalent in overall and cancer specific survival to its open counterpart is not known. He also reported an important recent analysis of SEER-Medicare which confirmed that VATS lobectomy appears to have similar survival to its open counterparts (12).
A magnificent video was presented to explain every step of the lobectomies performed through a small skin incision. A long discussion followed and all auditorium proposed that ‘single incision’ VATS probably define better than uniportal VATS what surgeons are doing worldwide. Certainly the length of skin incision is important and should be taken in serious consideration. We felt that a consensus conference is probably necessary consensus conference is probably necessary. The indication for a Wedge resection rather than lobectomy in initial stage lung cancer is still weak.
The Italian VATS group was formed in 2013 , and nowadays there are 65 participating centres and that 2800 VATS lobectomy have already been included. In Catania we joined the group few months ago (13)
A very interesting session for juniors and medical students from UK and Italy was carried out, and 12 abstracts have been presented as interactive posters. Two of them have been chosen for possible publication in Future Oncology.
Finally, the first data survival seems to benefit little from the various even growing “personal” modifications of the standard VATS technique. Since there is a limited variation between VATS and uniportal VATS, the likelihood is that either VATS and uniportal VATS will be operative in the near future. Its success will depend on survival advantages and decrease chest pain and not just on new technical instrumentation. To protect patient’s safety, the length of the skin incision should be chosen on the basis of several clinical factors and not in relation of modern “demand”. Although the trial VIOLET is ongoing in UK to demonstrate if VATS resection for lung cancer is better than open thoracotomy, doubts arises as standard postero-lateral thoracotomy for lung cancer seems to be an incision which is performed rarely today. A skin incision of 6-8 cm (mini-thoracotomy) with video assistance is enough for most of lung resections. The question which arises is if a mini-thoracotomy of 6 cm should be called “uniportal” or not.
Marcello Migliore, MD
Thoracic surgeon and invited commentator
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- Kamiyoshihara M, Igai H, Ibe T, et al. A 3.5-cm Single-Incision VATS Anatomical Segmentectomy for Lung Ann Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 2015;21:178-82.
- Zhu Y, Xu G, Zheng B, et al. Single-port video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery lung resection: experiences in Fujian Medical University Union Hospital. J Thorac Dis 2015;7:1241-51.
- Paul S, Isaacs AJ, Treasure T, Altorki NK, Sedrakyan A. Long term survival with thoracoscopic versus open lobectomy: propensity matched comparative analysis using SEER-Medicare database. BMJ 2014;349:g5575
- Migliore, M., Criscione, A., Calvo, D., Borrata, F., Gangemi, M., & Attinà, G. (2015). Preliminary experience with video-assisted thoracic surgery lobectomy for lung malignancies: general considerations moving toward standard practice. Future Oncology, 11(24s), 43-46.
- Migliore M. Will the widespread use of uniportal surgery influence the need of surgeons ? Postgrad Med J 2016 (in press).