Follow-up and surveillance of the lung cancer patient following curative-intent therapy

Gene L. Colice, Jeffrey Rubins, Michael Unger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


The following two distinctly different issues should be taken into account when planning patient care following curative-intent therapy for lung cancer: adequate follow-up to manage complications related to the curative-intent therapy; and surveillance to detect recurrences of the primary lung cancer and/or development of a new primary lung cancer early enough to allow potentially curative retreatment. Follow-up for complications should be performed by the specialist responsible for the curative-intent therapy and should last 3 to 6 months. Recurrences of the original lung cancer will be more likely during the first 2 years after curative-intent therapy, but there will be an increased lifelong risk of approximately 1 to 2% per year of developing a metachronous, or new primary, lung cancer. A standard surveillance program for these patients is recommended based on periodic visits, with chest-imaging studies and counseling patients on symptom recognition. Whether subgroups of patients with a higher risk of developing a metachronous lung cancer (eg, those patients whose primary lung cancer was radiographically occult or central and those patients surviving for < 2 years after treatment for small cell lung cancer should) have a more intensive surveillance program is presently unclear. The surveillance program should be coordinated by a multidisciplinary tumor board and overseen by the physician who diagnosed and initiated therapy for the original lung cancer. Smoking cessation is recommended for all patients following curative-intent therapy for lung cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)272S-283S
Issue number1 SUPPL.
StatePublished - 2003


  • Lung cancer
  • Metachronous tumors
  • Recurrence
  • Surveillance


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