• Anesthesiology · Sep 2021

    Randomized Controlled Trial

    Epidural Anesthesia-Analgesia and Recurrence-free Survival after Lung Cancer Surgery: A Randomized Trial.

    Epidural analgesia for video-assisted thoracoscopic lung cancer surgery does not improve cancer recurrence or cancer-specific survival.

    • Zhen-Zhen Xu, Huai-Jin Li, Mu-Han Li, Si-Ming Huang, Xue Li, Qing-Hao Liu, Jian Li, Xue-Ying Li, Dong-Xin Wang, and Daniel I Sessler.
    • Anesthesiology. 2021 Sep 1; 135 (3): 419-432.

    BackgroundRegional anesthesia and analgesia reduce the stress response to surgery and decrease the need for volatile anesthesia and opioids, thereby preserving cancer-specific immune defenses. This study therefore tested the primary hypothesis that combining epidural anesthesia-analgesia with general anesthesia improves recurrence-free survival after lung cancer surgery.MethodsAdults scheduled for video-assisted thoracoscopic lung cancer resections were randomized 1:1 to general anesthesia and intravenous opioid analgesia or combined epidural-general anesthesia and epidural analgesia. The primary outcome was recurrence-free survival (time from surgery to the earliest date of recurrence/metastasis or all-cause death). Secondary outcomes included overall survival (time from surgery to all-cause death) and cancer-specific survival (time from surgery to cancer-specific death). Long-term outcome assessors were blinded to treatment.ResultsBetween May 2015 and November 2017, 400 patients were enrolled and randomized to general anesthesia alone (n = 200) or combined epidural-general anesthesia (n = 200). All were included in the analysis. The median follow-up duration was 32 months (interquartile range, 24 to 48). Recurrence-free survival was similar in each group, with 54 events (27%) with general anesthesia alone versus 48 events (24%) with combined epidural-general anesthesia (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.90; 95% CI, 0.60 to 1.35; P = 0.608). Overall survival was also similar with 25 events (13%) versus 31 (16%; adjusted hazard ratio, 1.12; 95% CI, 0.64 to 1.96; P = 0.697). There was also no significant difference in cancer-specific survival with 24 events (12%) versus 29 (15%; adjusted hazard ratio, 1.08; 95% CI, 0.61 to 1.91; P = 0.802). Patients assigned to combined epidural-general had more intraoperative hypotension: 94 patients (47%) versus 121 (61%; relative risk, 1.29; 95% CI, 1.07 to 1.55; P = 0.007).ConclusionsEpidural anesthesia-analgesia for major lung cancer surgery did not improve recurrence-free, overall, or cancer-specific survival compared with general anesthesia alone, although the CI included both substantial benefit and harm.Editor’s PerspectiveCopyright © 2021, the American Society of Anesthesiologists. All Rights Reserved.

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    This article appears in the collection: Anesthesia technique and cancer recurrence.



    Epidural analgesia for video-assisted thoracoscopic lung cancer surgery does not improve cancer recurrence or cancer-specific survival.

    Daniel Jolley  Daniel Jolley
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