<b>Background: </b>Patients with locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) may be treated with induction che-motherapy (IC) followed by surgery with curative intent. The impact of staging inaccuracies on the failure rate of this intensive combined modality treatment approach, i.e. non-curative chemotherapy and thoracotomy, requires further investigation.
<b>Methods:</b> The records of a cohort of 38 consecutive NSCLC IIIA-N2 patients treated with IC followed by surgery were reviewed.
Results: The clinical course strongly suggested that the standard diagnostic algorithm failed to demonstrate stage IV disease in 34% of the cases. Surgery instigated by CT-based response criteria at restaging after chemotherapy proved to be irradical in 70% of cases.
<b>Conclusion:</b> Our data confirm the limitations of the cur-rent work-up of patients with apparently locally advanced NSCLC. This applies to the selection of patients to be assigned to combined modality treatment as well as to the post-chemotherapy assessment of resectability. Improved (re)staging of these patients will enhance the efficiency of intervention trials and prevent patients from being exposed to intensive and toxic therapy from which they derive no benefit.