Lung cancers arising from the extreme apex of the lung-superior sulcus tumors (SST)-have distinct symptoms and signs at presentation and a characteristic appearance on imaging. However, in their early stages, these tumors are often missed by traditional anterior/posterior chest X-rays. Recent advances in computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have made selection of patients with potentially resectable of SST more accurate. If mediastinoscopy reveals no mediastinal lymph nodes involved, the patient can be treated with surgery followed by radiation therapy with or without chemotherapy. If mediastinoscopy reveals microscopic mediastinal lymph node involvement, the patient can be treated with induction radiation therapy and concurrent chemotherapy followed by surgery. If mediastinoscopy reveals gross mediastinal lymph node involvement (N2), or if CT reveals N3 or T4 lesions, the patient can be treated with concurrent chemotherapy and radiation therapy to relieve symptoms; the outcome of such treatment appears to be better than that of sequential chemotherapy followed by radiation therapy. Whenever possible, to enhance the patient's quality of life, surgery should be considered to improve function and relieve pain.
Copyright 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.