Lessons to learn from EORTC study 08981: A feasibility study of induction chemoradiotherapy followed by surgical resection for stage IIIB non-small cell lung cancer
The present EORTC phase II feasibility study in stage IIIB (T4-N3) NSCLC was conducted to investigate whether an induction regimen with concurrent chemoradiotherapy followed by surgery after restaging by re-mediastinoscopy and/or fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emisson tomography (FDG-PET) was feasible in a multicenter setting. Unfortunately, the study closed prematurely because of poor accrual. The combination of more stringent selection criteria, the incorrect prevailing view of Ethical Boards that a tri-modality approach is too toxic, competing studies in the participating centers and the fact that patients with N3 disease could only be enrolled if a re-mediastinoscopy could be performed, underlie the low accrual. Although this study illustrates that the conduct of a tri-modality study across Europe appeared to be difficult at that time, the number of centers with highly qualified and experienced specialists involved in this kind of multi-modality approaches is rapidly increasing. Future initiatives should, therefore, certainly be encouraged. Minimally invasive procedures such as EUS and EBUS should preferably be used for up-front mediastinal staging, mediastinoscopy with or without EUS should preferably be reserved for restaging, and especially right-sided pneumonectomies should be avoided. Though evident, the feasibility to complete this kind of studies within a reasonable time period is still a condition sine qua non.