Background: The comparative effectiveness of stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) and wedge resection in the treatment of early stage lung cancer is still under debate. This meta-analysis compares the 5-year overall survival (OS) of wedge resection and SBRT in patients with stage I non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Methods: Original research articles published between 1995 and 2017 were identified through the National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health PubMed database and through the reference lists of reviewed articles. Data were processed and analyzed in R (version 3.4.2) and a summary estimate that accounted for the sample size of each study was calculated. The combined percent survival was calculated using random effect models. Funnel plots were used to assess publication bias. Heterogeneity was tested using the Q statistic and the I2 statistic. Results: There were 16 studies totaling 1,984 patients with stage I NSCLC treated with wedge resection. The meta-estimate was 74% (95% CI, 66–81%), with significant heterogeneity across studies (Q =172.46, P<0.0001; I2=91.30%). Thirty-six studies including 3,309 patients with stage I NSCLC treated with SBRT/ SABR produced a meta-estimate of 44% (95% CI, 38–50%), with significant heterogeneity (Q =423.55, P<0.0001; I2=91.74%). Two articles directly comparing stage I NSCLC patients treated with wedge resection to patients treated with SBRT both reported higher 5-year OS after wedge resection. Conclusions: SBRT is a treatment option reserved to medically inoperable patients, but could be an alternative to surgery in medically operable patients who prefer a less invasive treatment. More standardized methods for data collection and reporting are necessary to allow better comparisons across published studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5702-5713
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Thoracic Disease
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2018


  • Comparative effectiveness
  • Epidemiology
  • Meta-analysis
  • Radiotherapy
  • Surgery


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