Background and objective: Although nodal and distant metastasis is rare in T1 lung adenocarcinoma, it is related to poor clinical prognosis. Association between galectin-3 (Gal-3) expression level, and clinical outcome of T1 lung adenocarcinoma has not been clarified. Methods: From January 2009 to December 2014, 74 patients with surgically resected T1 lung adenocarcinoma were enrolled in this retrospective cohort study. Patient outcomes were followed up until December 2019. Gal-3 expression level in primary tumors was assessed immunohistochemically and evaluated based on the staining intensity and percentage. Patient characteristics and correlation between Gal-3 expression level and clinical outcomes were reviewed. Results: Low Gal-3 expression was associated with increased metastatic events (p
= 0.03), especially distant metastasis (p
= 0.007), and mortality rate (p
= 0.04). Kaplan–Meier analysis revealed that high Gal-3 expression level was associated with favorable recurrence-free survival in T1 lung adenocarcinoma (log-rank p
= 0.048) and T1a (≤ 2 cm, American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) 7th edition) lung adenocarcinoma (log-rank p
= 0.043). Gal-3 expression along with tumor size showed a larger area under curve (AUC) than tumor size alone for predicting metastatic events (AUC = 0.747 vs. 0.681) and recurrence (AUC = 0.813 vs. 0.766) in T1a lung adenocarcinoma in the receiver-operating characteristic curve. Conclusion: Low Gal-3 expression level in primary tumors was remarkably associated with increased metastatic events and reduced recurrence-free survival in T1 lung adenocarcinoma. We suggest that Gal-3 expression level in addition to tumor size may potentially be stronger than tumor size alone in predicting metastasis in T1a lung adenocarcinoma patients.
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