Rationale and Objectives: Examine the accuracy of clinical non–small cell lung cancer staging and tumor length measurements, which are critical to prognosis and treatment planning. Materials and Methods: Compare clinical and pathological staging and lengths using 10,320 2016 National Cancer Institute Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) and 559 2010–2018 non-SEER single-institute surgically-treated cases, and analyze modifiable causes of disagreement. Results: The SEER clinical and pathological group-stages agree only 62.3% ± 0.9% over all stage categories. The lymph node N-stage agrees much better at 83.0% ± 1.0%, but the tumor length-location T-stage agrees only 57.7% ± 0.8% with approximately 29% of the cases having a greater pathology than clinical T-stage. Individual T-stage category agreements with respect to the number of pathology cases are Tis, T1a, T1b, T2a, T2b, T3, T4: 89.9% ± 10.0%; 78.7% ± 1.7%; 51.8% ± 1.9%; 46.1% ± 1.3%; 40.5% ± 3.1%; 44.1% ± 2.2%; 56.4% ± 4.7%, respectively. Most of the single-institute results statistically agree with SEER's. Excluding Tis cases, the mean difference in SEER tumor length is ∼1.18 ± 9.26 mm (confidence interval: 0.97–1.39 mm) with pathological lengths being longer than clinical lengths except for small tumors; the two measurements correlate well (Pearson-r >0.87, confidence interval: 0.86–0.87). Reasons for disagreement include the use of family-category descriptors (e.g., T1) instead of their subcategories (e.g., T1a and T1b), which worsens the T-stage agreement by over 15%. Disagreement is also associated with higher tumor grade, larger resected specimens, higher N-stage, patient age, and periodic biases in clinical and pathological tumor size measurements. Conclusions: By including preliminary non–small cell lung cancer clinical stage values in their evaluation, diagnostic radiologists can improve the accuracy of staging and standardize tumor-size measurements, which improves patient care.
- Clinical and pathological staging
- Lung cancer staging
- Tumor length
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging