Primary lung cancer after treatment of head and neck cancer without lymph node metastasis: Is there a role for autofluorescence bronchoscopy?

Pyng Lee*, Remco de Bree, Hes A P Brokx, C. René Leemans, Pieter E. Postmus, Tom G. Sutedja

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Head and neck cancer (HNC) is the 5th most common cancer worldwide. As good locoregional tumor control can be achieved with current treatment strategies, patients who develop second primary tumors from field cancerization have poorer prognosis. Objectives: To determine if autofluorescence bronchoscopy (AF) played a role in the detection of second primary lung cancer (SPLC), and impact of SPLC on survival of patients with HNC and no cervical lymph node metastasis (N0). Methods: Patients with HNC(N0) referred for symptoms and/or radiology suspicious for lung cancer were assessed with AF. Data on patient demographics, smoking, cancer characteristics, and outcome were prospectively collected. Results: Fifty-one patients (44 males) with curatively treated HNC(N0) were evaluated. Median age was 70 years, all were current or former smokers of 35 pack years, and 25 had chronic obstructive lung disease. Over a median follow up of 60 months, 8 patients were diagnosed with synchronous and 26 with metachronous SPLC. Forty-two SPLC were found; 12 (29%) affected the tracheobronchial tree and 30 (71%) involved the lung parenchyma. Median time to metachronous SPLC was 22 months. Most of SPLC were surgically resectable. Five radiographically occult lung cancers detected by AF were successfully treated with endobronchial therapy. Lung cancer mortality was 24%. HNC patients who developed synchronous and metachronous SPLCs had significantly shorter survival (51 and 144 months) compared to those without (240 months) (p = 0.0005). Conclusion: SPLC impacted negatively on the survival of patients with HNC. Close surveillance with AF and CT for SPLC combined with aggressive treatment of early stage lung cancer might be a strategy to improve outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-315
Number of pages7
JournalLung Cancer
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2008


  • Autofluorescence bronchoscopy
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Survival


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