For non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients without distant metastases, occult involvement of N2 lymph nodes would be of the utmost importance in determining both treatment and survival. The key to optimal treatment strategies relied on accurate diagnosis, in particular accurate clinical tumor staging. Patients with clinical N0 or N1 staging preoperatively had a sizeable risk to have occult N2 lymph nodes metastases.
From November 2004 to March 2007, the entire database in a tertiary hospital of all patients with a pathologic diagnosis of squamous NSCLC underwent anatomical pulmonary resection and systematic mediastinal lymph node dissection were retrospectively collected and reviewed. A nomogram was developed on the basis of a multivariable logistic regression model with a combination of all potential variables. In order to surmount the potential of overestimating predictive performance, both bootstrapping for internal validation and an independent external validation set were employed.
A nomogram incorporating the significant risk factors was created to predict the probability of occult N2 lymph nodes metastases. A total score was calculated using sex, age, history of cancers, family history of cancers, history of other lung diseases, smoking history, clinical stage, clinical T stage, clinical N stage, tumor size, tumor location, central location, and carcinoembryonic antigen. The calibration plot for the probability of occult N2 lymph nodes metastases showed an optimal agreement between the predicted probabilities by nomogram and actual observed probabilities.
An objective and accurate nomogram predictive model for occult N2 lymph nodes metastases was drawn up and validated internally and externally in patients with squamous NSCLC. The nomogram model, as a robust tool in predicting occult N2 lymph nodes involvement, could be involved in a cost-effective application of specific diagnostic and therapeutic strategies.
Clinical trial identification
All authors have declared no conflicts of interest.